Is an Ivy League Diploma Worth It?

Paul FennerEducation Planning


In my continued quest to determine if a college diploma is worth the money comes a piece from the WSJ Is an Ivy League Diploma Worth It?  I personally believe that the cost of education is in a bubble no different than a stock market or housing bubble.  The question is when and how does it pop?  College debt now totals more than personal credit card debt and even if you file for bankruptcy guess what you cannot erase those college loans.

I strongly encourage parents with young children to begin the planning process of saving for college but also take into consideration the value proposition that college may or may not provide depending upon what your child wants to do with their life/career.  College is an extremely expensive place to “find” yourself these days.

  • More students are choosing lower-cost public colleges or commuting to schools from home to save on housing expenses. Twenty-two percent of students from families with annual household incomes above $100,000 attended public, two-year schools in the 2010-2011 academic year, up from 12% the previous year, according to a report from student-loan company Sallie Mae.
  • The approach has risks. Top-tier colleges tend to attract recruiting visits from companies that have stopped visiting elsewhere. A diploma from an elite school can look better to many recruiters and graduate schools, as well. And overcrowding at state schools means students could be locked out of required courses and have difficulty completing their degrees in four years.
  • There is little question that having a college degree gives candidates an edge in the job market. The unemployment rate for people with a bachelor’s degree was 4.9% last month, compared with 10.5% for high-school graduates with no degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • But a degree from a private college also is expensive and piles on debt. The average debt load for students who took out loans hit a record $27,200 for the class that graduated this year, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of student-aid websites and That comes as general per capita debt reached $47,260 in the second quarter, a figure that has been dropping in recent years, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • But Carl Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, says graduate outcomes often have more to do with major and how a student takes advantage of networking and internship opportunities, than with school choice.  Important point here as careers pay varying amounts along with varying degrees/requirements of education

For an alternative guide to saving for college for parents of twins, triplets, and multiple kids, you can review our college whitepaper on how we can help