College Game Plan

Families still bet on college, despite rising cost

Key Points
  • Seven in 10 seniors graduate with debt, owing about $29,650 per borrower.
  • Still, 90 percent of parents and students say college is worth the investment, according to Sallie Mae.
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A college education is now the second-largest expense an individual is likely to make in a lifetime — right after purchasing a home.

For many, it also requires going deep into the red. Seven in 10 seniors graduate with debt, owing about $29,650 per borrower, according to the most recent data from the Institute for College Access & Success.

And although total student loan debt currently stands at an all-time high of $1.5 trillion, the vast majority of American families still say it's worth it, according to a new report from lender Sallie Mae.

The lender's "How America Values College" survey of nearly 2,000 parents and students found that 90 percent of families agree college is still a worthwhile investment.

In addition, 83 percent said they believe they'll earn more with a college degree, and more than three-quarters, or 77 percent, said that degree is even more important now than it's been in the past.

In fact, those with a college degree earned an average of $65,482 in 2016, versus $35,615 for those with a high school diploma, according to 2017 report from the U.S. Census Bureau.