Thinking Of College ? Things To Remember

Factors Affecting College Costs

It’s the time of year when high school graduates may be anticipating their freshman year in college or are weighing the cost benefit of attending college immediately after high school. Many students are taking a gap year to allow time to plan an make the best decision.

 The idea of working ones way through school is almost mythical, as the cost of a degree has gone up astronomically over the past 30 years.  Fewer parents are able to afford full or partial college support due the recession, lower wages and inflation. The rise of the sandwich generation (working adults taking care of their parents and their children) further stretch savings available for tuition. The economic down turns have also impacted savings and job stability.  Skillful planning is therefore needed to prevent a lifetime of financial grief.

Students prior to beginning their first semester should be clear on the amount of financing they may need over the course of their undergraduate career. Taking a loan of $5000 per year over 4 years results in a $20,000 debt at graduation. The long-term affect can be significant negatively influencing your  quality of life for 10 years or more. Student loans cannot be applied to bankruptcy.   Refinancing for smaller more affordable payments can result in a lifetime burden into retirement. The number of retirees still paying their student debt has quadrupled over the last 10 years.

Bloomberg reported that 44% of college graduates were working in jobs that did not require a college degree. Because of low starting wages and student debt many college graduates have been forced to move back home with your parents due to student loans an lower paying jobs. CNBC stated in a recent article that more than 18-34 year olds are living at home than at any time in history.  This is not said to negate the value of a college degree but quality decisions related to financing and degree choice are vital. Nursing is an example of a valuebable degree choice because of the ongoing job opportunities and flexibility.

Bachelors Degree In Nursing

As a nurse with over 20 years of experience, I am often asked if a bachelor’s degree in nursing is a worthwhile endeavor? My answer is yes if you control you college debt. Regardless of where you attend nursing school you are going to have to take the NCLEX Exam to become licensed. Associate and bachelors degree graduates take the same exam to obtain licensure.  It is important that you attend a college or university that is accredited by the (Higher Learning Commission) HLC.  The nursing program within the HLC accredited university should also be accredited.

Nursing Accreditation      

There are two accrediting agencies for nursing programs. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) accredits masters, baccalaureate, associate and diploma programs.  The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits programs that offer only masters and baccalaureate level nursing degrees.

ADN versus BSN

The bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) is the industry standard but given the cost of a college education and the shortage of nurse’s employers will often ask you to sign a letter of commitment to complete your BSN within 2 years of hire.  Employers may also offer considerable tuition reimbursement to support completion of the BSN making it low to no cost for you.

There are many factors to consider when preparing for college. Higher education is worthwhile if the decision is made thoughtfully.