The High Cost of Not Attending College

Not attending college isn’t just costing you potential earning dollars – it’s also costing the U.S. trillions of dollars in public health spending, unemployment, and lost earnings. The International Youth Foundation recently released statistics that prove young people not in college are costing this country a fortune.

Not Engaged in Employment/Education, or  NEETs, is a specific group of youngsters who currently are not taking advantage of college degrees. In 2012, the total cost of NEETs in America was a staggering $6.7 trillion – half the US public debt. We already know that the pay scale of a college graduate in larger than a non-college graduate. We also know that college graduates are less susceptible to job loss and poverty. Here are other facts about the high cost of not paying college tuition:

  1. According to the Hamilton Project, $100,000 spent on a college education yields a higher return than corporate bonds or company stocks.
  2. An associate’s degree yields almost 15% higher return than investing in the stock market.
  3. In countries like East Asia, where youth unemployment is low, many young people are employed in agriculture – making them susceptible to unexpected poverty.

There is an ongoing discussion through the country about the college education bubble bursting. Many people argue that college degrees are not as valuable as they once were, and many young Americans are choosing to forego a college education in order to avoid student debt. Before you consider not obtaining a college degree, consider these facts:

  1. An online college education is fast, flexible, and more affordable than ever.
  2. An associate’s degree can be earned in as little as two years, and is a great option for those who don’t want a four-year bachelor’s degree.
  3. Certificates and diplomas in various trades and careers can be earned quickly and inexpensively. A specific certificate can help you earn a variety of high-paying, stable careers.

More, a recent study conducted by the Hamilton Project points to the benefit of investing in higher education. The above chart plots associate’s and bachelor’s degrees against the rate of return of stock market, corporate bonds, gold, treasury bills, and housing. The numbers speak for themselves…

As technology moves at lightning speed, colleges are adapting and becoming more flexible and accessible. This means a custom-fit education for more students is possible.

Not attending college will cost you thousands (maybe even millions) in potential earnings. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a report citing that over an adult’s working life, high school graduates will, on average, to earn $1.2 million; those with a bachelor’s degree will earn almost double, at $2.1 million; and people with a master’s degree, $2.5 million. Beyond that, it could cost you a great deal in unforeseen expenses. As the national debt rises, it is so important for American youth to arm themselves with a quality college education.

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About Allison Freeland

Allie Freeland is the Editor-in-Chief of She has been a professional writer for a decade and received her bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Minnesota. She brings a wealth of information about higher education, online degrees, college life, and career advice. Follow her on G+.