How much is an associate's degree really worth? We calculate and research the ROI of an associate degree specifically, and the results are interesting.
Much has been published recently about the value of a college degree over the long term. While the cost of higher education has continued to rise
, the benefits associated with that education continue to grow as well. An associate degree can offer a particularly good return on investment (ROI), since the cost of obtaining the degree is significantly less than a bachelor's degree, and the job opportunities can be plentiful. While we've compared whether state universities or community college graduates earn higher salaries
, consider these statistics concerning the ROI on various associate degrees to determine whether community college might be the next logical step in your career plans.
The Cost of an Associate Degree
cites 2010 statistics from College Board that show the average annual tuition cost for a community college is $2,544. Most can be earned in two years or less, although some students might take longer if they are juggling professional and family responsibilities along with their studies. For most students, a degree from a community college can be earned for less than $9,000.
By the same token, the 2009 annual average tuition cost at a public four-year school for residents was just over $7,000, while the rate for non-residents was more than $18,500. Private schools ran approximately $26,000 per year. These rates translate to a significant amount of debt for most students once they graduate, while community college students often graduate with little or no debt.
Projected Earnings for Associate Degree Earners