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Business Consuming Interests

Some college degrees offer better value than others

“Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,”  or so the 1970s country song advised.

But today, the recommendation could be not to let your children grow up to journalists, marriage therapists or vets.

Strictly speaking finances, those are a few careers that have a low “return on investment,” according to Bankrate.com. In other words, given the amount a student would have to borrow to get a degree in those fields compared to the potential salary, the return isn’t much.

Bankrate recently crunched the numbers. Too late for the Class of 2013.

Bankrate said a journalism degree costs $52,496 for tuition, fees, room and board. Median pay: $37,090. If reporters spend 10 percent of their salary toward repaying student loans, it would take nearly 32 years to wipe out the debt. This assumes a 6 percent interest rate on the loans.

A marriage or family therapist? A six-year degree in the field costs $68,010, median salary is $46,670, and the therapist would spend nearly 35 years paying off the loan at a 10 percent annual clip.  

And a veterinarian will shell out $114,268 for eight years of schooling. The median salary is $84,460, not bad. But even then, the animal doctor would spend nearly 28 years — that’s 196 in dog years — repaying the debt.

Maybe being a cowboy isn’t so bad after all.

Bankrate did find degrees with a high return. Marketing and advertising pays a median salary of $107,950, a little more than double the cost of four years of college. And these modern-day Don Drapers can pay off their loans in less than six years.

And economists will pay off loans of $52,596 in about 28 quarters – that about 7 years to the rest of us — based on a salary of $91,860.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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