Is Returning to School a Smart Financial Decision?

Is returning to school a smart financial decision

On one hand, you know that college grads tend to earn more than non-degree-holders — and the positions they qualify for tend to boast better benefits, too. On the other hand, college education is increasingly expensive, and many students must acquire loans that take years to pay off. Thus, returning to school can be exceedingly financially beneficial — or it might be a financial nightmare.

All potential adult students should seriously consider the financial ramifications of returning to school to ensure they are in the right financial place to acquire higher education. The following five considerations should help you determine whether returning to school is a smart financial decision for you.

1. The Increase in Salary Potential

Common logic holds that the higher your degree of education, the higher your salary potential — but this is not always true. Not all degrees improve your salary potential, so be careful about the one you might choose. A degree from the best online university for MBA might raise your earnings by 40 to 60 percent, but earning a Master of Fine Arts degree might not be as helpful.

What’s more, a degree in and of itself does not increase your earnings. Rather, it qualifies you for positions that tend to offer higher salaries. Even after finishing your degree program, you must put forth some effort to find a job pay suitable to your enhanced credentials. Schools that provide student services like career placement or alumni networks can be more effective in finding well-paying jobs for graduates.

Ultimately, returning to school tends to be a positive financial investment, in that most returning students gain a higher salary potential after attaining a degree. If you can earn $1 million dollars more over your lifetime thanks to additional schooling, the time and money is likely well worthwhile.

2. The Increase in Benefits Potential

Salary isn’t the only potential improvement advanced schooling offers. Benefits packages are sometimes even more valuable than salary increases, depending on your lifestyle and goals. As with salary, the benefits you gain from returning to school depends on your ability to chase and secure them, but many companies offer enticing packages and perks worth earning a degree for.

Available health care insurance plans vary wildly; higher education often will likely qualify you for those jobs that offer the best health and wellness packages, which might include gym access and long-term new parent leave. Additionally, education might give you access to company cars and phone plans, as well as on-site daycare and after-school programs. At the very least, your paid time off and flexible scheduling benefits might expand with your improved education.

3. The Decrease in Available Funds

You won’t be earning 50 percent more cash and enjoying a company-leased car as soon as you enroll in your school program. In fact, it could be a few years before you see any return on your academic investment. In the intervening period, it’s incredibly likely that you will have lower financial resources, as a portion of your earnings will go straight to paying tuition and other school-related fees.

Before you enroll in a program, you should consider how much money you can devote to school. With online education, you can continue to work while you attend classes, so you should be able to maintain your current earnings throughout your program. Still, it is important to know beforehand how much less you have to live with while you return to school (especially if you have a family and are the primary breadwinner).

4. The Increase in Debt

If your current earnings will fail to cover the costs of tuition and living expenses, you will have to take out student loans to return to school. Student loan debt isn’t terrible; it isn’t as unmanageable as other personal debts, like credit card debt or an auto loan. For one thing, your degree doesn’t depreciate with time, so student debt qualifies you for enhanced future earnings — like a home loan or business loan. Still, you should never strive to be in debt for no benefit, so you must be certain your degree will bring you future wealth before you enroll.

5. The Question of Life Balance

Finally, your last consideration before you return to school is one many prospective adult students overlook: Can you juggle work, school, and home responsibilities, financial or otherwise, and remain happy? Academic work can be just as arduous as employment, and even flexible programs from online universities take their toll on your free time and energy levels. If you don’t believe you can efficiently manage your life with this added concern, you might not be ready to return to school.

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