Right now there is about $1.7 trillion in student debt in the United States.
This is a significant number as the average cost of four year post-secondary education rose from $9,438 to $23,872 in 1980 to $23,872 by 2015. According to the Department of Education, it’s an enormous amount.
The pandemic has caused families and students to reconsider traditional four-year studies for years.
A nationwide survey of 3,000 students was conducted by ECMC Group (a company that assists student borrowers), and shows that the number of children who are considering a four year degree has dropped by nearly 20% due to the pandemic. In January 2020, 71% said they were considering the traditional 4-year route. However, just a few short months later, when lockdowns took effect and layoffs became rampant, only 53% said that they were considering the same option.
Jeremy Wheaton CEO of ECMC Group stated that “fewer and fewer students actually complete their education.” “That is very frightening. We still believe that education is important. Students can get a four-year, two-year, or one-year degree.
There has been an increase in Career and Technical Education Centers all across the country. They focus on offering additional options for students on the four year track.
Warren Tech is a CTE located west of Denver that offers hands-on training to students in many fields.
This school, which has over 1,500 students, splits classes so students can spend half the time learning in class and then drive to campus to gain practical experience in a particular field.
“Everyone wants to be here,” said Sammy Panorello, senior at Warren Tech. “There is no emergency landing lesson because everyone wants to be here. It’s very different from other classes.
Panorello is a part of the fire science program and works towards earning college credits to become a firefighter. She can earn credits in chemistry, environmental science, and physical education that will count towards her degree.
Warren Tech claims that students average 13,000 credits per annum, which amounts to approximately $2 million in tuition savings.
“My first boss here essentially said we’re the best kept secret in the district, and I really feel that way,” said Rich Straub, a consultant at Warren Tech. “Is it financially feasible to make a career in a particular major? Are there job openings? [in that field]What are the salaries for those jobs? What are the salaries for these jobs? Even if I end up with a substantial amount of debt after going to four-year college to get my degree, then I really want parents and students to give me the chance to say, “Wait, let us take a minute to think about it.” This is what you need to think about.’”