Despite the sky-high overall costs and high student loan amount, more students and their families are Rethink the value of a college education.
But ultimately, it is your choice of major and type of degree that will most impact your return on investment.
According to a new U.S. Census Bureau analysis of bachelor’s degrees and average earnings, students pursuing degrees specifically in computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or economics – most often STEM fields – earn the most overall.
According to the report, workers in these fields have annual incomes of $100,000 or more.
Alternatively, those with degrees in education, elementary education, fine arts, family and consumer sciences, and social work had annual incomes of less than $60,000.
A gender pay gap still exists among top earners
In all cases, men earn more than women, the Census Bureau found. For example, women with a computer science degree earned $91,990, while men earned $115,500. Among business graduates, women earned $84,750 while men earned $107,300.
“This career inequality begins as soon as women enter the workforce and continues at every point,” said Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez, host of the “Money Confidential” podcast.
Studies show that a college degree usually pays off.
Bachelor graduates usually earn 75% more than those with only a high school diploma, according to The College Payoff, a report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
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“However, it is important to consider your major before taking out student loans to finance your education,” said Robert Franek, editor-in-chief of The Princeton Review.
“As a rule of thumb, students should not take on more debt than they expect to earn in the first year after graduation,” he said.
At the very least, “it forces discussion about what the actual return on my academic investment will be.”