By Justin Biel, trends editor at Grow Wire
- Money magazine released its “Best Colleges for your Money” list this week, providing a roadmap for a generation saddled with student debt.
- While overall student debt is higher--and degrees are more expensive--than ever before, research suggests that college nevertheless offers a worthwhile career boost.
- Plus, corporations are alleviating the strain. Many now offer loan repayment as a standard job perk.
Deal-seekers, listen up: Money magazine released its annual “Best Colleges For Your Money” list this week, ranking U.S. universities on their overall value and providing a roadmap for anyone concerned about student debt.
It’s no secret that finances can be a major deterrent to attending college, since a degree is more expensive than ever. And don’t get us wrong: Success is possible, even if you eschew higher education. However, Money’s list is key, because college is statistically a mega-boost for careers. Plus, corporate employers are introducing smart ways to help grads pay off loans.
The 10 Best Colleges For Your Money
To build its rankings, Money used three major factors: quality of education, affordability, and outcomes for graduates. Researchers measured points like quality of instructors, estimated student debt upon graduation, and graduates’ earnings in the work world.
Princeton won out with an average of $7,500 in student debt, and a 100 percent ranking in terms of getting grants to students in need. Graduates of MIT, meanwhile, make the highest in early career earnings at an average of just over $81,000 per year.
Here are the top 10 “best colleges for your money,” according to Money:
- Princeton University
- University of California, San Diego
- University of California, Irvine
- University of California, Los Angeles
- Stanford University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- University of California, Berkeley
- CUNY Bernard M Baruch College
- University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
- University of Virginia – Main Campus
Even with $1.5 trillion in student debt, college still offers a career “bang” for your buck.
Money’s value rankings are an essential guide, because today, the U.S. holds more student debt than ever before. U.S. student debt totals $1.48 trillion and is spread amongst 44.2 million Americans, Student Loan Hero reports.
Nevertheless, college is essential to those looking to build corporate careers. Consider the stats:
College grads earn $1 million more than their peers over a lifetime, a Georgetown University study found.
And it’s not just financials: College grads report greater career satisfaction than high school grads, as well. The Pew Research Center, which has studied the pay disparity between college grads and non-grads extensively, sums it up well.
“On virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment – from personal earnings to job satisfaction to the share employed full time – young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education.”
Plus, loan repayment is the job perk of the future.
The private sector is offering new avenues to help grads pay off loans. Hundreds of companies now offer student loan repayment programs as a standard benefit, and for a millennial generation burdened with debt, they’re likely a key to recruiting top talent.
The loan repayment structure varies at participating companies: Some cap repayment funds, and others remain open-ended. For example, accounting firm PWC offers associates $100 toward loans per month for up to 72 months, while office retailer Staples pays $100 for up to 36 months, but only if you’re deemed a “high potential” employee. Fitness company Peloton has an open structure, offering $100 per month indefinitely.
Fitness brand Peloton offers its employees $100 per month toward their student loans.
Employers seeking top talent should consider this: Ninety-five percent of workers with student debt said they would be more willing to join an organization with loan repayment options, according to a survey from wealth management firm SoFi.
Beyond employers, a host of creative platforms help students pay off loans. SponsorChange.org, for example, allows grads to volunteer their time for freelance projects and receive loan repayment from philanthropists who fund the projects. ChangEd is an app that puts your spare change from purchases into a separate fund for student loan payments. And with GiftofCollege.com, students can create a profile and share with friends and family to raise funding to pay off student debt.
A college degree is now more critical than ever. But with smart decision-making, grads can clear their debt while jump-starting career growth.
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