Save money where you can in college

Is college too expensive? Yes and no. It just depends where and how you are getting your education.

In 2010, college graduates, aged 25 to 34, earned 50 percent more than those with just a high school diploma. Obviously, some degrees are going to be more valuable than others; a degree in chemical engineering is probably going to get you more than a degree in art history. And if you can figure out organic chemistry, you could cook meth like Walter White on “Breaking Bad.”

Unfortunately, I’ve never been good at chemistry, plus, I can’t afford the cough syrup.

It seems logical that if you can get an edge on competitors with a $5,000 associates or $30,000 bachelor’s, then a degree is worth it. I do have my reservations, though.

I cannot comprehend why people would take out tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans, many at high interest rates. And why anyone would go to a for-profit college?

According to the College Board, in 2011, the median debt at a public four-year university was about $7,960, with private institutions running about $17,040. Meanwhile, for-profit colleges run about $31,190.

According to Baker College’s website, “most undergraduate courses” cost $215 per credit hour, while Washtenaw Community College’s in-district cost is $96 per credit hour and $149 for out-of-district students.

For those who can’t cover all the expenses as they arise, it is so much better to go to a two-year college before diving into a four-year university. As an old man of 23, I look back and am glad I didn’t have to suffer the purgatory of switching majors while enrolled at a $10,000 plus per year school.

And just because you are enrolled at Eastern Michigan University doesn’t mean you can’t take classes elsewhere, too. You can take those irritating required core classes, like intermediate algebra and English 10, at your local community college and transfer the credits.

But it’s not all about tuition and choosing a school —lifestyle plays a part, too. If you are living in the dorms: sweet Lord, get out! I live in Hoyt Hall and it is burning a hole in my wallet like lava dripping onto an igloo.

On EMU’s website, the estimated room and board costs are $4,143 per semester. Using a super-advanced mathematical algorithm—codenamed “division”—I’ve determined that averages out to around $1,035 a month per semester.

It’s not too hard to find a room in town for under $500 per month, while eating on under $10 a day. That’s about $800 per semester I just saved you. You could buy four EMU sweaters at the campus bookstore with that much money. You’re welcome.

Don’t pretend you’re in the clear once you graduate just because you have a diploma to frame. Live like a cheap bastard for several more years while you pay off your student loans and hope your degree is actually worth something.


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