You remember the advice you were given in high school: In order to get a "good job", you have to go to college.
Translation: Yes, you'll have to pay through the nose for the next four years to get your bachelor's degree, but it's worth it because that diploma means you'll be financially set after graduation — right?
Well, yes and no. Yes, it's true that people with bachelor's degrees still earn more than those without one — but there's an increasing number of decently paying jobs out there for those with an associate's degree only, according to a new Georgetown University report.
The school's Center on Education and the Workforce found that the number of "good" jobs (defined as those paying an average of $55,000 per year, and a minimum of $35,000) for those with two-year degrees went up by 3.2 million between 1991 and 2015. Now, about 30 million workers without a bachelor's degree hold so-called good jobs.
And they aren't all in blue-collar industries. Sectors like healthcare, finance, information technology, and leisure and hospitality have all increasingly opened their doors to workers who come out of two-year educational institutions like community colleges or technical and vocational schools. In fact, those with associate's degrees saw an exponentially bigger jump in the number of good jobs available to them than those who started a four-year college but never finished (which was only up by 940,000).
This is good news for those (or the parents of those) who've been pondering whether the hefty price tag of a four-year degree — and the potential student loan debt — is worth it. For the 2016 to 2017 school year, the average in-state cost of tuition and fees at a public, four-year college was $9,650. For a two-year school, it was only $3,520, according to the College Board.
Plus, more cities and states are jumping on the free community college bandwagon. Tennessee was the first state to offer free community college, and other places like Oregon, San Francisco, New York and Rhode Island have followed suit with their own programs.
Of course, whether you pay a few thousand or tens of thousands of dollars for higher education, it'll still require planning to help cover the cost. Here are a few mistakes to avoid when you're trying to put together a plan for saving for college (hint: your retirement nest egg shouldn't double as a tuition fund).