How the student loan debt crisis affects democracy
In this May 17, 2018, file photo, new graduates line up before the start of the Bergen Community College commencement at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. There’s no single policy or action that will alleviate America’s $1.74 trillion student loan debt crisis while simultaneously preventing students from taking on unaffordable amounts of future debt. Higher education financing experts are divided on the exact combination of solutions, but all agree it will require a multipronged approach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

With the current state of affairs with the national student debt crisis looming and millions of soon-to-be high school graduates contemplating whether seeking a higher education will be a good decision, many are wondering if pursuing an education is worth the five or six-figure price tag.

According to a survey from Intelligent.com, More than half of college graduates over the age of 25 don’t work in their field of study.

In March 2022, they surveyed 1,250 college graduates ages 25 and older regarding their opinions on whether or not attending college was worth it and what the benefits and disadvantages are.

Key Findings

  • 39% of college graduates ‘strongly agree’ that attending college was worth it, while 41% ‘agree.’
  • 14% ‘disagree’ that attending college was worth it, and 6% ‘strongly disagree.’
  • 42% of grads who don’t think college was worth it say college is a poor investment
  • 4 in 10 grads who say college wasn’t worth are repaying student loans, compared to 3 in 10 grads who think it was worth it
  • 31% of graduates who don’t think college was worth it would opt for trade or vocational school instead of a 4-year institution

The survey also stated that 25% of respondents earn less than $30,000 a year, while approximately one out of seven earned less than $15,000 per year. An individual annual income of $14,097 is considered below the federal poverty threshold.

There are several other reasons why dissatisfied graduates said college wasn’t worth it.

  • Poor return on investment
  • Could have gotten in their desired career without a degree
  • general education courses (a standard for bachelor’s degree programs) were a waste of time and money
  • Taking out student loan debt that they won’t be able to repay

The average student loan debt increased 4.5% between 2020 and 2021, with public-school graduates borrowing an average of $30,030 for a bachelor’s degree, according to the Education Data Initiative.

Nearly half of out of the college graduate surveyed live paycheck to paycheck putting off major milestones like starting a family or buying a home because they couldn’t afford it.