The high cost of not going to college
Contact: Kenn Marshall, (717) 720-4054 or (717)
Chancellor Frank T.
State System of Higher Education
– Is college really worth it—all of that time and effort, not to mention
how much it costs, to earn a degree?
Articles about rising college costs and growing student
debt dominate the national headlines. There was even a feature film made
on the subject—Ivory Tower—which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film
Festival and made its television debut Thursday night on CNN. There’s no
doubt it’s a question on the minds of many high school students and their
families as they ponder the future.
Certainly, paying for college is a major investment—for
many, second only to the cost of buying a home. But, how do you judge a
good investment from a bad one? The best way is to consider its rate of
According to a recent study by the U.S. Census Bureau, an
individual with a bachelor’s degree can expect lifetime earnings to be
more than double that of someone with a high school diploma alone. Add a
graduate or professional degree, and that figure goes even higher. It’s
hard to argue that a college education isn’t one of the best investments
you will ever make.
What’s more, unemployment among college graduates is about
one-third that compared to those without a degree. Put another way, earn
a college degree and you’re much more likely to have a job, and one that
pays more. In that sense, the cost of not going to college is very high.
Still, the price tag can be daunting, especially to
someone who comes from a family background where no one has gone to college
before. The thought of going into debt to pay for college scares away
many talented potential students—an important issue that calls for
serious and ongoing dialogue.
That’s why it’s important to keep the price of
high-quality higher education as affordable as possible, which is the
mission of the 14 universities within Pennsylvania’s State System of
Our state-owned universities are focused on three things:
access, quality and value. We are working to ensure the high-quality, high-demand
degree programs we offer align with the demands of our students and their
future employers. We continue our efforts to increase efficiency and
accountability as a means to keep tuition manageable for Pennsylvania’s
In fact, the average price of tuition and fees at the
State System universities is approximately half that of state-related
schools Penn State, Pitt and Temple and a fraction of what many private
universities charge. What’s more, the average total price of
attendance—combined tuition, fees, room and board—at our 14 institutions
is below the national average.
There is little question that higher education funding is
an investment for the Commonwealth too, and the rate of return is just as
high because our graduates form the foundation of Pennsylvania’s future.
Nearly 90 percent of State System students are Pennsylvania residents,
most of whom will remain here after graduation
to live, work and raise their families, supporting the state’s economy as
Is college worth it? The answer to that question remains a
resounding yes—both for Pennsylvania’s families and for the Commonwealth
as a whole.
State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher
education in the Commonwealth, with about 110,000 students. The 14 State
System universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than
120 areas of study.
are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion,
East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown,
Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West
Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. The universities also operates
branch campuses in Oil City (Clarion), Freeport and Punxsutawney (IUP) and
Clearfield (Lock Haven), and offer classes and programs at several
regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and
in Center City in Philadelphia.