How Much Is Your College Degree Worth?

Type of college, choice of major, and degree level are all considerations that must be made by a student on an individual basis based on a wide range of factors. However, with the cost of a college education rising every semester, many students are now forced to consider the financial prudence of their education. Here are some statistics about the modern college experience.

Value of a bachelor’s degree: $1.2 million
Do those monthly student loan debt payments ever make you wonder if going to college was even worth it? According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the average person with a bachelor’s degree will earn $1.2 million more from ages 22 to 64 than a person with no degree. Despite skyrocketing tuition costs, college is still typically the best route to choose to make money in the long run.

Cost of attending college: $44,750 per year
This number represents a “moderate” college budget for a student enrolled in a private college for the 2013-2014 school year, according to College Board. The cost drops to $22,826 per year for an in-state public college. These student budgets include tuition, fees, housing, meals, books and other school supplies, and transportation. 

Highest-paying bachelor’s degree: Petroleum Engineering ($176,300 per year)
According to PayScale, if you really want to get the biggest payoff from a bachelor’s degree, plan on working for Exxon Mobile (NYSE: XOM), Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX), or Conoco Phillips (NYSE: COP). Petroleum engineering majors can expect to make on average a mid-career salary of upwards of $175,000 per year. If you’d prefer working in an office at a company like MetLife Inc. (NYSE: MET), the second highest-paying bachelor’s degree is Actuarial Mathematics, which pays a mid-career salary of $119,600. The rest of the eleven top-paying bachelor’s degrees are all in engineering: Nuclear, Chemical, Electronics & Communications, Electrical & Computer, Computer Science, Computer, Aerospace, Electrical, and Materials Science Engineering.

Highest-paying advanced degree: Master’s in Petroleum Engineering ($187,600 per year)
Once again, an advanced degree in Petroleum Engineering takes the top spot for high-paying advanced degrees. A Nurse-Anesthesia Master’s Degree is the runner-up with an average mid-career salary of $162,800. Other advanced degrees of note include an MBA in Strategy at number five on the list ($145,000 mid-career) and a Juris Doctorate rounding out the top ten ($139,000 mid-career).

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