Millennials, we have a problem — and I’m not talking about the high price of coffee. I’m talking about those ever-looming student loans.
If you’re like me, you might be struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel that is handing over a painfully large chunk of your paycheck every month. Or, if you’re still in college, you’re probably dreading the thought of facing your debt mere months after you walk that stage.
But have no (or at least slightly less) fear: A report by The College Board found that a bachelor’s degree pays for itself in an average of 12 years.
The Hidden Cost of a College Degree
The report takes into account something we don’t often think about when considering the cost of a college degree: the time you lost that you could have spent in the workforce making money (albeit for lower pay).
But don’t let that deter you. You’ll make that money back, and more than likely double it, within a few years of graduation — especially if you have one these eight college majors that will set you up with a pretty sweet entry-level salary.
Last year, college grads with a bachelor’s degree and a full-time job earned an average of 67% more than those who only graduated high school.
So while it might not feel like it now, you’ll eventually make back the cost of your education and then some.
This means you probably made the right choice by getting your college degree — even the one that made the people in your freshman dorm question your sanity. (Was anyone else worried? Just me?)
And if that’s not enough to prove your 8 a.m. class is worth getting up (and paying!) for, consider that for 25- to 34-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree, unemployment was just 2.3% in December 2016. That’s a pretty big difference from the 5.1% rate for those with just a high school diploma.
Keep in Mind, This Isn’t the Golden Rule for Every Grad
It’s important to note that CNN Money bases the 12-year payout on the average college grad in the U.S. leaving school with $30,100 in student loan debt and sticking to a regular 10-year repayment plan.
If you’re looking at that number and thinking, “I wish!” then you might want to consider some of the odd ways people are working to pay down their student loans quicker or how an extra $25 a month could mean huge savings down the line.
Don’t Wait to Start Chipping Away at Your College Costs!
College life adds up fast, especially if you’ve made any of these mistakes. Still, you can combat the size of that extra two-year net loss by earning some money on the side while still earning your degree.
Here’s a list of jobs you might even be able to do during that awkward stretch of time between classes (read: any break too short to grab a bite to eat, because let’s face it, that would be my first choice).
And if you’re still looking for the right college degree for you, check out our list of degrees that will keep you interested beyond graduation day.
Your Turn: What hidden costs did you encounter while attending college?
Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s deep in the throes of paying off her student loans, so she gets you.