6 Financial Benefits of a College Degree

Higher education usually pays off

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A college degree takes a lot of hard work — and often costs a lot of money. As a result, you may wonder if going to college is worthwhile, but it's an investment that nearly always pays off. Here are some of the many financial benefits often enjoyed by college graduates.  

1. You'll Have Higher Lifetime Earnings

People with a bachelor's degree earn about 66 percent more than their peers with only a high school diploma, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A master's degree can net you twice as much as someone with a high school education. But you don't have to take on that degree of academic investment to see the benefits: Even those with an associate's degree tend to earn 25 percent more than those with high school diplomas. Figures vary by occupation, but your earning potential is highly likely to increase with your level of education. 

2. You're More Likely to Have a Job at All

Unemployment rates are lowest among Americans with advanced degrees. Even two years of extra education can make a big difference, as people with associate's degrees have a significantly lower unemployment rate than people with high school diplomas. Keep in mind it's very important to actually get your degree in order to increase your earning potential and chances of employment, because people with some college and no degree don't fare much better than people with just a high school diploma.

3. You'll Have Access to More Resources

Going to college means you can take advantage of your school's career center or internship programs, which can help you land your first post-graduate job. 

4. You'll Have a Professional Network Before You Start Working

Don't underestimate the value of connections.

You can leverage the relationships you've made in college and your school's alumni network well after you've graduated, like when you're looking for new job opportunities. That's decades of value from an investment of just a few years.

5. You'll Experience Indirect Financial Benefits

While having a degree won't automatically improve your credit rating, for example, having a good job that you got because of your degree can indirectly increase your credit score. How? Earning more money means you're more likely to be able to meet your financial obligations, like regular bills and loan payments. That can help you avoid paying bills late or having a debt go to collections, which can hurt your credit. On top of that, increasing your earning potential can also improve your ability to save money, which can help you avoid debt. Of course, earning more money doesn't guarantee you'll manage it well, but it can certainly help.

6. You'll Have Access to Jobs with Better Benefits

There's more to any job than just the take-home pay. Better-paying jobs, most of which require a college degree, can also offer better perks, like retirement contribution matching, health insurance, health savings accounts, childcare stipends, tuition reimbursement and commuter benefits.