Report: Students Must Weigh Debt, ROI In Choosing Major

Debt is a constant concern for parents and students alike — but maybe it needs to be an even bigger concern. With student loan debt reaching $1.4 trillion in the United States, according to recent data from information services and credit reporting giant Experian, prospective students must begin looking for ways to get through college with as little debt as possible. Now a company that compiles data on student debt is suggesting that choice of a major — or perhaps even reconsideration of a chosen career field — is a more important element in weighing educational plans. has released a report and infographic (see below) on the degrees that make most, and least, sense given the average salary in that profession. With the average student debt load at $37,172 per student, and with 44 million people currently carrying student loan debt and 11.2% of them delinquent in their payments, says the crisis can no longer be ignored.


Some four-year degrees are simply not worth the investment, says: an information systems manager and radiology technician make the same amount of money, for example, but the degree for the former costs twice as much to attain. The data shows that engineering, communications, and computer science professions are worth the debt; news reporters, human services professionals, and day care teachers, conversely, will not make enough to pay off their debt.

It’s critical, says in its report, for students to go into undergraduate and graduate programs with their eyes wide open — and with a sound financial plan. Besides urging wisdom in choice of major, they offer seven avenues for students and parents to explore:

  1. 529 Savings Plan: This lets you save money for college tax free.
  2. Roth IRA: Like a 529 savings plan but with a 10% penalty for withdrawing funds early.
  3. Prepaid tuition offers: These accounts allow you to save for college and lock in tuition rates.
  4. Custodial account: Parents should ask their bank about this as it allows them to gift $13,000 to their child tax free each year.
  5. Scholarships: Apply for every relevant scholarship you can find.
  6. Consider community college: Complete your prerequisites or even your entire undergraduate degree at a community college where tuition is much lower.
  7. Live with your parents: Dorms, campus apartments, and meal plans are getting pricier each year.