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Which are the most expensive university degrees to apply for a student loan?

The expense of a student loan comes down to how much you can earn once you graduate in relation to the amount of debt you incur to obtain your degree.

University degrees versus student loan debt
Anna MoneymakerGetty

The Biden administration is mulling student loan debt forgiveness as the lingering weight of the financial obligations already incurred continues to grow and become unbearable for many. Besides this one-time fix, the White House has parsed longer-term solutions to the high cost of getting higher education which generally leads to increased earnings over one’s lifetime.

Unfortunately, the legislative initiative in which those proposals were included is all but dead and the measures themselves pulled in an attempt to salvage the endeavor. So for those who are planning to continue their education post-high school will need to consider which degree will get them a career that won’t saddle them with never-ending debt if you’re going to need to take out a loan, or loans.

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Picking the right degree

There are several considerations when choosing the degree that you wish to attain, preferably it will be one that you are passionate about and will bring fulfillment in your life. The amount of time that it will take to obtain the degree and the cost will affect how much debt you will accumulate by the time you finally graduate.

Once out of college then, you’ll need to find a job that will help you pay off the student loan debt you’ll have taken on to accomplish your mission. Needless to say, the higher the salary you can obtain in relation to the financial obligations that need to be repaid is an important consideration.

High future earnings come with high upfront costs

All but one of the jobs that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists as having a salary over $200,000 a year is in health or dental care. In order to acquire a degree in one of these fields you’ll need to invest a minimum of ten years and in the majority of cases more.

A degree in the highest paying medical fields will set you back, depending on the certification, anywhere between over $70,000 and $500,000. Attending a private institution or studying out of state is generally double the cost of attending a public in-state school not matter which degree you choose to pursue.

Looking at which degrees will leave you with the least amount of debt compared to earnings, degrees in engineering came out on top in an analysis by CollegeXpress. Those with the worst ratios were in law, pharmacy, International relations and affairs, architecture and nursing administration.

Jobs that will be in demand over the next decade

The BLS lists the fastest growing occupations, and among the top five is nursing practitioner. This career will require between six and eight years of studies and could set you back around $80,000 to attain a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing along with a master’s degree program for nurse practitioners. The average salary was $120,680 per year in 2021 according to the BLS.

Wind turbine service technician and solar photovoltaic installer are also two of the top five jobs that will grow the most over the next decade. Respectively the median salary in 2021 was $56,260 and $47,670 per year. A degree can be obtained within a year at a technical school, with a second more advanced degree course lasting just under two years. The first degree can be obtained for around $9,000 and the second a little less than $13,000.


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