Is College a Good Investment? Despite costs, career education makes financial sense

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With soaring college costs, some wonder if higher education is worth the time and expense.

When the Pew Research Center surveyed Americans about their views on college, 5 percent said the higher education system provides excellent value, 35 percent said the higher education system provides good value, 42 percent said the value is fair, and 15 percent said the value is not good.

Avoid big tuition bills

Research found that a typical student with loans graduates from a four-year college with a balance of $29,400 in debt. However, according to the College Board, with aid and federal income tax benefits accounted for, the average tuition and fee cost is close to zero for the majority of students attending community colleges.

The pay-off 

The Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data found that the average high school graduate with no additional education earns approximately $770,000 during a 40-year work life. Those with a two-year associate’s degree earn approximately $1 million during that time frame, and a worker with a bachelor’s degree earns approximately $1.4 million. The figures include the cost of time and money spent to obtain a college degree.

“So is it worth it to forego about $50,000, the estimated earnings lost while studying for an associate’s degree in order to boost one’s earnings over the long haul by $230,000?” asks Richard Fry, a researcher with the Pew Research Center study. “I think many students and their families think this is a pretty good use compared to other risky alternative investments they might make.”

Of those surveyed who graduated from four-year colleges, 74 percent say their college education helped them grow intellectually; 69 percent said their education helped them mature, and 55 percent said their education was useful in preparing for a career.”

Midland’s Legacy Scholarship

Midland’s Legacy Scholarship Program is built on the legacy left by four great Midland families—Gladys and George T. Abell, Helen and Barney Greathouse, Harriet and J. Harvey Herd and Dorothy and Clarence Scharbauer, Jr.—who invested their time and resources to help build a community.

In 1986, Abell-Hanger Foundation established a Midland College scholarship that paid tuition for Midland County high school graduates.  In 2003, the Helen Greathouse Charitable Trust partnered with Abell-Hanger Foundation, and the scholarship was named Midland’s Legacy Scholarship.  In 2006, a third Midland family foundation—the Chaparral Foundation—joined this rich tradition of supporting MC students in their pursuit of higher education.  That tradition continued to grow when the Scharbauer Foundation united with the other three family foundations to support this great educational legacy.

Scholarship Information

Midland’s Legacy Scholarship Program covers tuition and fees up to $1,050 per semester ($2,100 for a full academic year).  The scholarship can be used for fall and spring semesters. Scholarships are awarded to applicants who have completed their applications and met all the requirements.  Completed Legacy Scholarship applications for the Fall 2014 semester are currently being accepted.

To verify eligibility, the Midland College Student Development Office will review academic transcripts and volunteer hours in June, and award scholarships no later than July 15.

For more information about this exclusive opportunity for Midland County high school graduates, visit or contact the Midland College Legacy Advisor Kristy Messmer, (432) 685-6854, [email protected] 

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