People without a college degree have a much harder time finding work, according to data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. Even in economic good times the difference between a lifetime working with a degree and one with just a highs school diploma can be nearly one million dollars. That’s a lot of lost income and is a sure lot more than what even the priciest four-year universities charge for tuition. The statistics don’t lie: a college education is overwhelmingly worth it. But don’t shrug off college as a luxury of the gifted and affluent and something beyond your meager means of getting. This country needs talented people specifically educated to carry out vital tasks that keep the national economy moving. The government knows it and so do our nation’s educators. They want to do something about it, but they obviously need your help.

Recent student loan reforms the U.S. government made into law last year have done tremendous things for those who beforehand struggled to navigate the complications and cost of student loans. There once was a time when the expense and inaccessibility of student loans legitimately inhibited high school graduates and working adults from seeking higher education. However, in 2010 the federal government took control of most of the student loan process, which had previously been operating through dozens of financial institutions despite federal funding being the primary provider of loans. This means interest rates are not only going to be cheaper, they’re going to be more securely put into place.

But excuses for not getting a four-year degree begin to really fall apart when you think about all the different avenues in which higher education providers are making to make it easier for people to get a degree. Evening programs have flourished across college campuses in the last decade or so as more and more working professionals are deciding to go back to school. Online colleges and universities, whether technical or even doctoral, are granting unprecedented access to their highly-praised programs. All you need to do is provide the will, as most universities and colleges have provided the way.

The only way to know for sure is to see for yourself. Browse online rankings and compare the multiple programs available to you. Talk to admissions counselors and financial aid advisors who are there to help answer all the questions potential pupils throw at them. Chances are anything you have to ask they’ve already got experience dealing with. The only thing separating you with hundreds of thousands of dollars of extra income you can earn in your lifetime might just be your own inhibitions about the possibility of getting a degree.

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