It's no secret that the cost of college in America is skyrocketing. In 2018, Forbes released a mini-study examining just how much costs had actually changed over the last 30 years. They reported that in 1989, the average cost for all four-year institutions was $26,902 for the entire program (or $52,892 when adjusted for inflation). In 2016, that same average cost was $26,120 per year or $104,480 for the full four years. Essentially, the cost of higher education had doubled.
These numbers make it easy to see why a four-year college degree is simply out of the question for many Americans. High school graduates are unwilling to take on the lifetime of debt the degree would bring, or lack the resources to attend public or private universities without taking out loans.
Luckily, a four-year degree isn't the only higher education option out there. Plenty of colleges offer two-year programs at a much more affordable rate. While associate degrees don't improve earning prospects as much as bachelor's degrees, they still provide an increase in job stability and wages.
In the following slides, Stacker has compiled a list of the associate degrees that earn the most money, using data from PayScale. Degrees are ranked by mid-career pay (as of 2021). So before you commit to a four-year program, read on to discover your other, cheaper, options.
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