Middle-Class Parents Are Losing Their Faith in College Education

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High cost of College EducationBy Mandi Woodruff

Citing rising tuition costs and a poor job market, 20 percent of middle class parents now say they don't consider a college education to be a worthy investment.

The finding was cited in the latest Merill Edge Report, a semiannual survey that looks at financial concerns among American adults earning $50,000 to $250,000 per year.

"Parents continue to financially support their children's education, yet 40 percent of the [middle class] express concern over the rising cost of college," the report says.

It's no wonder they're worried. More than half of middle class families plan on dipping into their own savings to fund their childrens' college education, and an increasing number of parents have found their finances tangled up in the ongoing student loan crisis.

Of course, much of college graduates' success depends on what area of study they pursue.
"The return on the college investment is driven by the institution a student attends, the degree they earn, and their field of study," Mark Schneider of the American Institute for Research told Business Insider. "As college has become a mass product, there are a lot more students attending schools with lower [returns on investment]."

The five lowest-paying majors are nearly all in the social service sector, while computer sciences and engineering programs continue to churn out high-paid workers. A recent PayScale study listed the median mid-career pay for a Petroleum Engineering major at $163,000 and the median mid-career pay for a Social Work major at just $45,300.

Of the 1,000+ parents polled by Merrill Edge, just over one-third plan on relying on scholarships and grants, and about one-in-four will ask their kids to chip in. Yet again, one of the simplest ways to save for college is still vastly underused -- just 20 percent of families take advantage of education savings plans, according to the report.

And they're not exactly learning from their mistakes.

"Half of [middle class] parents with children who did, or will, attend college, wish they had started saving for their first child's education earlier," the report says. "However, only one-third (32 percent) of this group are actually saving differently for their second child's education than they did for their first."

While the value of college education will likely remain hotly debated, there's no underestimating the value of starting to save as early as possible.

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104 Comments

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ilm9p

Smaller regional Universities are the way to go. The larger the institution, the more likely you are to have too much focus on sports. These programs that bring in herds of ignorant welfare scum still reading on a third grade level (if they can read at all) just to run down a field or put a ball in a hoop. I know people who are proud of where they went to school not because of their education but because of some dirty animals slamming a ball through a hoop, or running down a field, enough times to win a “National Championship”. Disgusting.

November 27 2012 at 8:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
freethedems2012

I see whackie Evan has been here with his copy and paste hamster.

November 24 2012 at 7:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gmydogbud

Question: When are the LIBERAL Professors going to take a BIG CUT IN PAY, so that the Middle Class can afford to educate thier children? They claim they are all for fairness and support the Democrat Party, so when might the Middle Class, expect them to put their money where their mouths are or will this be yet another case of DO - AS - WE - SAY -- NOT - DO - AS - WE - DO? You have got to love those LIBERALS!!! Double Standard!!!

November 23 2012 at 4:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gmydogbud's comment
wfreeberg

You don't know what you are talking about. My son and his wife are both full professors teaching at a major university and neither makes what a union auto worker makes in a year.

November 23 2012 at 7:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to wfreeberg's comment
vlady1000

The new wage structure for new employees is no where near what it yse to be for auto workers. You need to get current with what is going on.

November 23 2012 at 11:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
gmydogbud

With Respect: If what you say is true, where is all the money charged by the College going? The cost to educate children is beyond what a Middle Class Family can afford, if your son and his wife are full professors teaching at a major university and are so under paid, they might want to look into why the university is charging so much, while they are paid so under paid.

November 24 2012 at 7:36 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
rcalley1

The key is to choose a hirable major! All of the Art's degree have use but the value is not in line with engineering and science degrees. It like the garbage collectors, they are cirtical to society, but the skill level does not demand the pay of BS in Engineering. We cannot have a society where every job has the same value and the pay is the same! Society is like a ladder, every rung on the latter is critical to the stability of the ladder, but each rung will have a different value. The middle class is developed by climbing the ladder. College education is NOT the only EDUCATION, life and work experience is a practicle and effective educator

November 23 2012 at 12:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
yankeei

Our emphasis on a four year degree is probably overrated if your goal is to quantify it immediately after graduation. I have always argued that a good technical education as a plumber or electrician is just as valuable.

November 20 2012 at 7:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to yankeei's comment
vlady1000

Very true in many cases. And I think the young people are doing less hands on work, they rather make a cell phone call for a repair. My daughter (a very young doctor) will pick up a wrench and fix her plumbing, car, etc, but my son (not a doctor) has no idea what to do. How things have changed in one generation.

November 20 2012 at 8:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
crobb7318

If you live in Illinois, don't give your money to the state's program. Talk about crooks, the entire state of Illinois is infused with crocked politicians who want your money and then declare, "We just don't know what happened to it."

November 20 2012 at 2:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
us118

A friends son decided to not go to college but found a job as a plumber fast foward 5 years and he owns his own company that is thriving.... Hid friends>? They are working in the mall to pay off student loans!

November 20 2012 at 5:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to us118's comment
yankeei

And, when you fast-forward the plumbing trade, most people would be amazed at the amount of academic hours as well as the journeyman's hours it takes to earn a plumber's license in any of our states; electricians, the same. It's not that easy.

November 20 2012 at 7:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
us118

When i was in college it was great... Today we have everyone in college signing their lives away on student loans and NO JOBS! HELLO!

November 20 2012 at 5:33 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
lttlfld3

College is a scam there no jobs for the kids.

November 20 2012 at 5:32 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
stock market

"The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America" A must read. by Charlotte Thompson Iserly

November 20 2012 at 1:34 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply