In part because of the rapidly rising costs at four-year schools and the ensuing debt burden, many would-be college students are discovering shorter degree programs cost a lot less but can pay off equally well.
Here's a look at the highest-earning graduates of two-year colleges, where associate degree holders from these schools earn over $30,000 early on in their career and more than $70,000, on average, with at least 10 years' experience, according to a report by PayScale.
(B.A. degree holders earn $51,505, on average, in their first job after graduation, according to Georgetown's Center on Education and the Workforce.)
The cost to attend two-year schools is also substantially less than at a four-year one. Families with students in four-year private colleges spent about $43,900 in 2015-16; at four-year public colleges, it was more than $19,500. At community colleges it was $3,400, according to the College Board.
That means footing the bill is considerably easier at a time when paying the tab is the top concern parents and students say they now share, according to The Princeton Review's 2016 College Hopes & Worries survey.
Many college graduates have also expressed buyer's remorse regarding the cost of their education, according to a separate survey by Citizens Bank.
"With the price of tuition increasing as much as it has, people are looking for ways to save money on their education investment while still preparing for a high-income career," said PayScale's editorial director, Lydia Frank.
To that end, these are the top five highest earning two-year colleges that could be a worthwhile alternative to a four-year degree.
Data from PayScale's College Salary Report were collected from full-time employees who completed an ongoing employee survey.
-- By CNBC's Jessica Dickler
Posted on 20 September 2016