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Is an education between you and your future?According to the College Board, people with a bachelor’s degree earn about $800,000 more than high school graduates throughout their working lives. Even when loan repayment is factored in, the higher the degree, the higher the income.

You’ll have to crunch a few numbers to see if the financial benefits outweigh the costs, but the good news is, they just may.

A Matter of Degree
Education doesn’t come cheap. An associate degree costs about $30,000, while a bachelor’s starts at $80,000. But not all degrees are created equal. MSNMoney.com calculated that an associate degree in engineering paid out three times as much as one in liberal arts. And a bachelor’s in engineering more than doubles that gap.

How Close Are You?
Many institutions offer a prior learning assessment that provides credit for verifiable skills acquired through life or work experience. Additionally, many institutions grant credit based on a satisfactory score on the College Board’s College-Level Examination Program.

Go the Distance
Online learning provides an efficient college experience. The critical step is to choose a regionally accredited institution so that you’ll be eligible for federal financial aid programs. The Online Education Database provides independent evaluations and rankings for accredited programs.

Making It Pay
If you need to finance your education, federal loan programs such as Perkins and Stafford are your best bets. Be sure to look into loan forgiveness programs from agencies such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, too. New tax incentives such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit also make paying for a degree easier.

The Last Word
Learning is good for you. This much is true. But while education may always be a smart investment, some common sense can make it a high-paying one as well.


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