Polls / May 25, 2010

Is university worth the time and money?

The cost of going to university in time and money is worth it, according to 60% of respondents to the latest eZonomics poll. The remaining 40% don't consider the investment worthwhile.

Consider all of the costs and benefits of higher education
Going to university can be a tough financial decision. For many people, however, the investment can be worthwhile. Research from the United Kingdom summarised by economics professor Andrew Oswald found the lifetime returns from university education were greater for women than men (30% compared with 20%) and higher grades were also linked with higher earnings. Tim Harford, author of the Dear Economist column in the Financial Times, underlines the value of obtaining better scores in advice given to a questioner who has not performed well at university.
Financial benefits of higher education, however, are not guaranteed. Research examining the costs and benefits of legal training in the United States concluded the potential increase in earnings did not necessarily offset the costs

Saving and budgeting can soften the financial blow
The potential benefits of higher education coupled with the risks involved suggest it could make good financial sense to plan ahead to try to cut the cost of university study. A regular saving plan put in place several years before starting university might reduce debt - and, importantly, interest paid on debt. Careful budgeting and spending during those years can also reduce costs.

Some benefits can't be measured
Going to university is not only a financial decision.
The research cited by Professor Oswald notes more time spent in education is associated with increased happiness and health and an ability to find jobs more quickly if made redundant.
Similarly, the study of law students notes the degree carries prestige, but adds: "alas, you cannot eat prestige".


eZonomics team
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