At Yale, tuition alone for the 2019-2020 school year is $55,500. After tacking on expenses like room and board, it costs nearly $76,000 to attend. That's before factoring in any grants, scholarships or financial aid that students may receive.
If attending a "big name" school means you're going to wind up with a lot of student loan debt, it may not be worth it, says self-made billionaire Mark Cuban: "There isn't a lot of value add from big name schools for freshman or sophomore classes, particularly when a motivated student can augment their studies with free online courses from the big names," he tweeted this week.
At the end of the day, whether you're considering an Ivy or not, "the most important criteria when choosing a college is affordability," the tech entrepreneur said. "Go to a school you can afford. A community college that offers transferable credits is always smart."
Cuban, now 60, started college at the University of Pittsburgh but transferred to Indiana University after his freshman year. He picked IU's Kelley School of Business without ever seeing the campus because it had the cheapest tuition among the top 10 business programs at the time, according to the school's website.
At Indiana, he worked various jobs, from giving dance lessons to hosting disco parties, to help pay for his tuition.
Today, earning a college degree is more expensive than ever: After factoring in room and board, the average total cost comes out to about $21,000 a year for in-state students and about $37,000 for out-of-state students. As a result, U.S. student debt levels are at an all-time high.
Still, in most cases, a college education is worth the price, says Peter Mallouk, a certified financial planner and president of wealth management firm Creative Planning.
"The greatest separation between you and your wealth is having a college degree," he tells CNBC Make It. In terms of earning power, statistics show that "there's a very big discrepancy between people who have a high school degree and a college degree," he adds.
Ramit Sethi, author of "I Will Teach You to be Rich," is on the same page as Mallouk. Taking out student loans to get a college education can definitely be worth it in the long run, he tells Make It: "Don't buy the typical advice that everyone seems to be throwing around these days saying college loans are the worst thing on earth. They're not."
That doesn't mean you should borrow recklessly: "I'm not saying everyone should graduate with $150,000 in student loan debt," Sethi says. Be thoughtful: Run the numbers and be deliberate about what you'll be able to repay.
Mallouk agrees: When picking a college that works for you and your budget, think about your career path, he says. "You really have to look at the degree that you're getting and how that translates into future income to determine what that degree is worth."
To get an idea of what your degree may be worth, do your research, think about the future job market and whether the degree you're getting is translatable.
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