What Are You Willing To Pay For An Education?

Let’s start this post with a little graph….

(photo courtesy of: Bureau of Labor Statistics- Census)

The graph compares the cost of these 3 variables between the years of 1978 and 2010

  1. Homes- average cost of a home
  2. CPI(cost price index- basket of goods: food, television, etc.)
  3. Tuition- college tuition cost

As time goes on, costs will generally always rise due to inflation, the economy, and various other factors. If you look at the lines for Cost Price Index and Home prices, you’ll notice that both have risen at a steady pace. Other than the hump that started around 2004, which was due to the financial bubble/housing crisis.

If we take a look at Tuition costs though in comparison, they have rapidly been rising since the early 90’s at a much higher rate.

Before I keep rambling on being nerdy with my statistical analysis, lets look at a very simple example:


Stacy goes to college. College tuition per year cost her $1200. Minimum wage was at around $1.65. While she went to school, she could pay off her full tuition by working 14 hours a week.

$1200(tuition)/$1.65(hr wage)=727 hours/52 weeks in a year= 14 hrs/week


Stacy’s daughter goes to college. College tuition per year cost her $19,000. Minimum wage is around $8.00. While Stacy is in school, she could pay off her full tuition by working 46 hours a week.

$19000(tuition)/$8.00(hr wage)=2375 hours/52 weeks in a year= 46 hrs/week

It doesn’t take an economist to see how screwed up this is.

If you went to college in the 60’s, 70’s, or maybe 80’s, it was more doable to pay your way through school while working a job part time throughout. I’m not saying it wasn’t very hard then too, but it was more manageable (solely based on the data-every situation varies).

Today though, this isn’t the case.

The Success TreeStudents are going higher into debt every year to obtain a college degree today than ever before.

Many jobs won’t even look at candidates that don’t hold a degree (regardless of how bright they are).

“Having a college degree today is like having a best friend. It’s almost expected that you at least have 1.”

The mind boggling part to me is the fact that many college graduates work there tail off for 4 years obtaining their degree and then get a job they could have had without it.

Now they earn the same pay, but are tens of thousands of dollars in debt as well. Lose-Lose situation!!

Yes……a good percentage of college graduates do get jobs with a degree that they wouldn’t have otherwise been considered for, but this is still a huge problem for the ones that don’t (we both know this).

The problem & solution for me lies in these 2 factors:


What is the value of college to you?

The value of college is different for everyone. What are you planning to get out of it? Are you going because someone expects you to go or because the job you desire requires it?

At the end of the day, you have to decide if you think the cost of attending is worth it.


Even though many individuals would love to attend college, it’s just not possible for some financially. Thankfully with today’s technology, free education is becoming widely available to anyone with a laptop/computer.

Want to take Introduction to Computer Science at Harvard for free, you can (Note: I took the class & highly recommend it)

Khan Academy offers anyone a world-class education for free as well.

If you’ve never heard of the X-Prize Global Learning Competition, you’ll be fascinated by this too.

Education is changing everyday in front of our eyes. It is not something you simply pay money for in exchange for a higher wage one day. The higher wage will come if you work for it, but education is a life long process.

This “education” is available on the screen in front of you. And it doesn’t cost you a penny.

I hope that you were able to walk away from this article learning one new thing. If you did, I’d really appreciate if you could share this article so other people can do the same 🙂 Thanks! I really appreciate it

Ryan Malinowski


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