Is College Necessary When Higher Education Alternatives Are Easier to Finance?

Are you unsure whether you or your child should pursue a higher education degree? It’s a question more people are asking nowadays. The average tuition cost of a four-year college has more than doubled since 2000. A college degree can open doors to a number of careers, but the decision to go to college isn’t always an easy one, especially for people who will struggle to finance their degree.

There are options for getting assistance to pay for college, but there are also many alternatives for people who are either uninterested in attending a university or would prefer to develop professional skills through a different route. For one thing, attitudes are changing. Fewer people think going to college is important – in no small part due to the burden of debt they may face after graduating. Student loan debts go up every year, making more people question whether taking on loans in the hopes of landing their dream job is going to be worth it.

Cost of Higher Ed Makes College Unattractive to More Young People

In particular, first-generation college students may not have the means or ability to go. Consider some stats from, which provides research to help young people make the right high ed decisions for them:

  • As of July, 2021, the average debt for student borrowers was $35,453.
  • About a third of students borrow money to pay for college.
  • Trade schools can cost between $3,000 and $15,000 for a three-month to eighteen-month degree program.

Some high school graduates are choosing to work as they decide whether to go to college. A gap year can give people time to clarify what their career goals are and, if they decide to go back to school, how it will be funded. Trade school is another alternative more people are considering.

Trade School an Attractive Option for More Students

More people are finding ways to make good money without a college degree. There are many positions that usually only require a trade school degree. The highest-paying of these positions include:

  1. Air traffic controller
  2. Elevator mechanic
  3. Dental hygienist
  4. Medical sonographer
  5. Aviation maintenance technician

Meanwhile, many other jobs don’t require any degree beyond high school. In the manufacturing industry, some fast-growing jobs that don’t necessarily hire college grads include inspector, team assembler, maintenance, first-line supervisor, industrial machinery mechanic, and repair worker. In the business world, there are many openings for administrative assistants, office clerks, customer service representatives, and operations managers, which don’t typically require more than a high school degree.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Investing in School Loans

The trades provide career options for many people. Do you want to start pursuing a specific trade, invest time in the college planning process, or both? Will your parents or someone else be willing to cosign a loan if you need one? A series of family conversations can help determine who will be responsible for what costs.

Take it from the dad in a recent USA Today article who helped his son decide what to do after high school: “You need to educate yourself on this process. Get financial help when taking out your loans and find out all the information you can before you make that decision or start filling out applications.”

Consider How Much Student Debt You Would Be Willing to Take on

College finances are one of the biggest challenges of the planning process. One rule for determining how much student loan debt a student can afford to repay is to make sure that the total amount of student loan debt (including capitalized interest and loan fees) is less than the projected annual starting salary for a career.

To pay for college, you will likely need a solid, well-thought-out plan for how you would finance it – whether through grants, loans or scholarships. There are federal as well as private student loan programs, and in some cases family members that might be able to help out. It can take some time to explore all your options, how loan payments work, what the conditions and interest rates would be for these loans, and to create a realistic roadmap for paying them back once you graduate.

Currency Exchanges Help You Keep Finances in Order

Going to a college, university or trade school is a big decision, as is the question of how your plan will be financed. Even if you don’t have all the answers, it’s good to know there are convenient and trustworthy finance services nearby that can help you handle the smaller things, like check cashing and electronic bill payment services. Community Currency Exchanges (CCEAs) have many financial and auto services to help locals stay on top of their finances.

Your nearby CCEA has loads of information and services to help you get your money where it needs to and take care of other financial tasks. Stop by your nearest location or check us out online to find out what else we offer!

A graduate holding their diploma.

With over 350 locations, many open nights, weekends, and holidays (and several stores with 24/7 availability), you can rest easy knowing your financial needs can be taken care of when you need them most. We’re in the heart of every community. Don’t believe us? See for yourself.