Weighing the costs of a college degree - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Weighing the costs of a college degree

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – A new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said by the end of 2013, the total student loan debt in the United States exceeded $1 trillion. And college tuition has more than tripled since the 1970s.

But that study also said a college degree is worth the cost, in the long run.

Gary Vang is an incoming University of Wisconsin – La Crosse freshman, looking to study chemistry in the fall. He said he's confident with his choice to get a bachelor's degree.

"If pharmacy doesn't work out, I feel like it will give me something to fall back on so I can actually get a job; because I have a degree," Vang said.

Thousands of students leave college with thousands of dollars in student loans.

During a working career, a bachelor's degree can earn a person an average of $1 million more than someone with just a high school diploma, according to the study. An associate's degree can earn a person around $325,000 more.

"An employer is typically going to have a set of qualifications that they are looking for, and in some cases, those qualifications may have to do with professional credentials that can only be gained through an academic experience; a college degree,” said Tim Tritch, interim director of the UW-L Career Services & Academic Advising Center.

A college degree gives students a more specific skill set, Tritch said, which caters to higher paying jobs.

"Right now it's obviously a lot of work. But once I graduate and find a job, I hope to start higher than those who didn't go to college,” said rising senior Joseph Miller.

The Federal Reserve reports the benefit for both a bachelor's degree and an associate's degree outweigh the cost – a step forward in a student's financial future.

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