26% of US millennials are delaying college due to cost

Over a quarter of young people are delaying going to college or university in the United States, according to a new study.

College has always been a costly endeavour, but further education in the US has gone from expensive to extortionate in recent years. Over the last decade alone, average fees to attend college in the US have gone up 50%, pushing ever more students towards eye-watering levels of debt.

The price of college will generally still pay for itself over the course of a career, but the size of the debts incurred by students is staggering. Back in the 1978, it cost US students the modern equivalent of $8,250 per year to attend a public college or $17,680 to attend a private school – figures roughly in line with what UK students currently have to pay. Over the next 30 years those fees doubled to $16,460 for a public college and $38,720 for a private alternative. And the increase in costs has only accelerated since, with it costing $21,370 to attend a public school today and a wince-inducing $48,510 per month to attend a private school. Over a three year course that is nearly $150,000 or three years’ salary for the average worker.

It used to be that many parents would save for their children’s college funds, putting aside a few thousand pounds a year when they could. However, it is simply not possible for the vast majority of American parents to pay to put their kids through college today. This means young people are being pushed into debt and all the stresses that entails before they have even had a chance to enter the workforce. And worse, this debt can never be wiped, not even if a person falls into bankruptcy – this debt is inescapable.

Some talented young people manage to score scholarships each year, both from the colleges themselves and from a variety of businesses that are investing to help them afford higher education. Companies of all sizes and stripes from breweries like Melvin Brewing to Google with its own Doodle scholarship have taken it upon themselves to give students some extra cash to help them avoid some of the monetary stresses.

However, even with the help on offer, an increasing number of students are delaying their college applications for a year or more to build up some savings first. A recent study by TD Ameritrade reveals that more than 1 in 4 millenials are delaying their college enrolments to reduce the debt they will have to take on.

Most jobs for 18-year-olds tend not to pay particularly well, but if young people can live with their parents rent-free whilst they earn for a year or two, they can save up enough money to take some of the sting out of the costs of college. Moreover, delaying college will also give young people some time to reflect on what they really want to study. Those that think they want to study marine biology whilst in school, may still want to take that path after a year or two in the workforce, but at the same time they may be inspired to take a more entrepreneurial route and study business or they might find another passion entirely once they leave the bubble of high school.

Delaying the start of college may seem a depressing thought right now, but it may be the right one for your financial circumstances.

Photograph by RawPixel

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