These days, most students grow up hearing that a college education is the path to a good job, financial success, and a happy life.

But is it true?

In the wake of 2008, countless stories have circulated about baristas with Master’s degrees and students with degrees and six-figure debt who simply could not find a job. Graduates who did manage to find employment were often underemployed or working in a field unrelated to their degree.

Some may, understandably, be questioning whether college is worth it at all. Let’s take a look at where we’re at ten years after the recession.

In 2015, college graduates earned 56% more than high school graduates–the largest difference to date. The disparity goes beyond just money; a college degree is changing Americans’ prospects for everything from home ownership to voting to geographic mobility to retirement.

Image A: The effects of a college education spill into quality of life, income, and even success in marriage.

 

The trend isn’t improving over time for high school-only grads either; while in 2007, 73% of high school-only graduates were employed, in 2015 only two-thirds of these workers were employed. Among college-educated graduates, employment dipped only one percent, from 84% to 83%.

Even when college grads and high school grads had similar incomes and the same access to retirement plans, college graduates saved 26% more for retirement. This can have wide implications for the younger generation fifty years from now.

As pensions shrink and concerns about Social Security’s solvency are raised, it may fall entirely to individuals to secure funds for their retirement. Those who don’t contribute enough may find themselves unable to stop working.

Pew Research Center has already found that life has become more difficult for those who haven’t completed college, while earnings have improved for college graduates; these effects will likely only be exacerbated as college degrees become the standard of education.

We may know that a good college degree is a solid path to avoiding unemployment, but attending college is in no way an easy undertaking.

Image B: The average tuition for higher education is not affordable for many people. Almost half of all college students drop out before completing their degrees.

 

The average cost of tuition is more than twice what it was in 1986, and many people incur significant debt in order to attend.

The University of the Potomac wants to remove these barriers to higher education. Compare these sky-high tuition rates to Potomac’s tuition rates: $240 per credit hour. For a 15-hour semester, considered full-time at most schools, a student would pay only $3,600.

We want people to be able to complete an education without incurring massive amounts of debt, and alongside offering much lower tuition, we want to make sure our students are getting degrees in disciplines that will yield better earnings long-term.

Image C: A comparison of affordability at five Washington D.C. accredited universities.

 

A study by Georgetown University found that the difference in lifetime earnings between the lowest and highest-paying college majors is over $3 million. The highest paying majors are to be found in the tech and computer science industries, as well as in the actuarial sciences; half of the graduates in the latter will be making over six figures after 10 years.

The University of the Potomac wants to put more people on the path toward one of these high-paying jobs. We are fully accredited and offer six Bachelor of Science degrees, five Associate of Science degrees, 14 certificate programs, and an MBA program, in disciplines centered around accounting, business, information technology and cybersecurity–all growing fields with high income potential..

We offer tuition much lower than the majority of schools to bring higher education to more people. We realize not everyone’s lifestyle allows them to take classes full-time, so classes at Potomac are offered both in-person and online; you can complete coursework at your own pace.

Higher education holds the keys to a secure future. We want to bring that future to as many people as we possibly can.