College degree worth it

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Amid stories of student-loan debt, you might question whether a college education is worth the expense. It is, according to a February 2014 study by Pew Research Center, particularly for recent graduates.

The study found that so-called millennials—adults who are ages 25–32—who don’t have a college degree earn only 62 percent of what millennials who have college degrees earn. This is the widest pay gap of any generation, according to the study.

However, you shouldn’t expect to earn that 38 percent difference overnight. Financial-aid expert Mark Kantrowitz, who publishes Fastweb.com and FinAid.org, which are financial-aid and college scholarship information websites, says the average debt at graduation in 2012 for bachelor’s degree recipients was about $29,400. If your student-loan debt is less than your annual salary, it typically takes about 10 years to pay off, he says.