Rising Prices, Rising Questions: Is College Worth it?



Seniors in high school contemplate the positives and negatives of going to college.

Many students are faced with a dilemma after high school, wondering whether the astronomical price is worth the experience.. The tuition costs of a local New Jersey college, Rutgers University, is $16,263 tuition and fees—without Room and Board—and for students in-state. For a student out-of-state, that same cost has doubled. Now, a higher cost for out-of-0state tuition and private college must be taken into consideration as well. The cost of college and worth of a degree thus begs the question, is college worth it?
Many see college as the doorway to a successful career. Others see it as the doorway to heavy debt.
“Not only does going to college cost you money over the three to six years that you attend, but it also has an opportunity cost, because if you were going to use that time to work for money, now you can’t,” Vignesh Vasudevan ‘22 said.
The cost of tuition heavily influences the consideration of going to college. According to USNEWS.com, the average cost of a four year public college tuition per year in 2023 is $10,432. Public out-of-state tuition is $22,953. Private college tuition is $39,723. All these are just the base level costs, and are increasing annually.
Furthermore, student debt—taking out loans to pay for education—is an issue faced by many. College is expensive, compelling students to take out loans to study. The original idea of college is to be a doorway for jobs, which then would be able to pay off the debt.
“I do think that college is too expensive currently, especially when the increase in college tuition over the past few decades far outweighs the prices of other services as well as economic metrics,” Avinash Aravind ‘23 said.
Despite the expenses, some students have the opportunity to lower the price of college through scholarships and financial aid. All interested students may apply, but this does not guarantee receiving such help. Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is an example of aid the government offers to students who are unable to pay the high costs of their education. However, financial aid such as FAFSA will provide aid based on one’s “cost of attendance”—the cost of the college, and “Expected Family Contribution”—how much your family can actually pay. In other words, aid is only given to those who salary-qualify. Another possible scholarship to cut down college tuition is Qualifying for the PSAT’s National Merit program. This scholarship can cut down tuition costs by as much as $2,500 but is highly exclusive.
While cost may be one factor, the programs which college provides is another important part for deciding worth of college.
“A lot of it comes down to not just what the college is giving to the student, but what the student gives during their experience in college,” said Bright Horizons College Counseling Services, a company that specializes in helping students planning to attend college by explaining the process of admission to college and what colleges provide. Bright Horizons explains that college is not only for the sole purpose of gaining marketable skills, but also for new insights gained from professors and students on campus that give way to new opportunities given by the college and beyond.
Professors and students also have the ability to teach one “life skills, and experiences, and connections you need to succeed…in your field…[it’s possible for you to find them on your own,] but it’s definitely a lot easier with built-in systems and mentors to help you along your way,” Vasumathi Venkat ‘22 said, currently studying at Princeton University.
There are many other factors in determining if college is right for an individual, such as the environment on campus and the majors and degrees the college offers. Others still may prefer to take another path for their future.
“If you have an idea of what type of business you are running, or you want to go in the military, because you don’t have the funds for college and don’t want to go into unnecessary debt, then going to college is not worth it,” Shreeya Malikireddy ‘23 said.
There are many jobs open for people without a college education. According to Forbes.com, technology companies, such as Apple and Google, hire people without a college degree. Other than big tech companies, establishments such as Hilton and Bank of America hire individuals without a degree as well. Working at these jobs without the burden of college debt is beneficial, as an individual is provided with a more stable financial position.
Ultimately, college decisions come down to one’s future goals for experiences and community.
“College is, of course, about education and learning, but it’s also about the experience. People seek the community and the leadership that you learn from college,” said Sarina Ahmed ‘23.
Adding on the topic of experience, college provides useful job experience, allowing you to adapt within the real world when applying for jobs after one graduates.
If an individual is applying for a job out of college, the first thing their interviewer looks for is not the college they attended, but the activities and programs the job applicant participated in.
There are many factors when it comes to the question of attending college. The choice of college ultimately comes down to what you want to do. You are building a future, and it is your choice on how that future is built.

Other than the experience and opportunities college provides, the decision is up to the individual and their goals.
“I think it depends whether or not someone should go to college. I’m doing it because it’s the best option since it’ll help me get the best job, since you do need a degree for some jobs, but ultimately you’ll just have to figure that out yourself since not everybody is able to afford going to college,” said Diego Bisono ‘23.