It has become a common story of late – the debt load of college students continue to rise. A new report is out again this week – check out this piece from Fox 9 in Minneapolis that aired on the Thursday, September 27 evening newscast.
It’s true that the cost of college attendance continues to rise. And there is no denying that the debt students and families are taking on to pay for a college degree can be massive – a prospect that is especially nerve-racking given the less-than-stable state of our nation’s economy.
But let’s just hold on a minute! Amid all the talk about how to make a college education more affordable, there is surprising little talk about some of the absolute best options available to prospective college students. Options that can save families THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS!
Minnesota is blessed to have dozens of community and technical colleges spread all across our great state. Community colleges offer a tremendous opportunity for students to get a high quality college education (the first two years of virtually ANY 4-year degree), with a much smaller price tag than if a student were to go directly to a university.
In fact, the savings in tuition and fees alone can add up to over $4,000 for students completing their AA at a community college as compared to the average tuition at state public universities. The savings only grow if you consider the fact that attendance at a local community college could potentially also save the student significant money in room and board if they stay with mom and dad for an additional year or two. Compare community college tuition to the cost of private or for-profit colleges and the savings are even more staggering.
Technical College Programs
Folks, not all careers require a four-year degree. It seems almost blasphemous to say it, given the tremendous pressure put on young people to get a four-year degree, but there are many, many great (and great paying) careers available to individuals who’ve gone through technical college programs.
Technical colleges offer students the opportunity to learn a skill or trade in a hands-on environment, typically in two years or less. Graduates will have earned a certificate, diploma, or associate’s degree and be in a great position to move directly into the workforce.
And the jobs are out there! The Career Services office at Ridgewater has dozens of employers seeking graduates with skills learned in these technical programs. Many jobs have starting salaries of $15-$20 per hour or more, depending upon the industry.
Post Secondary Enrollment Options are another great opportunity for students to save money, and one that doesn’t get talked about much in the media. Simply put, PSEO means free college credits to students who qualify.
Minnesota’s PSEO program offers high school juniors and seniors (and to a limited extent sophomores) who meet certain qualifications the chance to enroll in college courses that also will count toward completion of high school graduation requirements. What’s best is the state covers the cost of tuition and books! There have been many Ridgewater students who’ve graduated with their AA degree from Ridgewater BEFORE their high school graduation date!
With the growth of online courses at Ridgewater and other local colleges, high school students interested in PSEO can even take classes online – eliminating the need to travel to campus for classes.
Yes, it is true that the cost of a college education continues to rise, and student loan debt is rising with it. But don’t overlook some of the outstanding opportunities to earn a first-rate college education that will be easier on the pocketbook for many years to come.