Education ROI Calculator to Estimate Value of Continued Education

The cost of higher education is a chief concern for students and families alike.

You may wonder if continuing education post-undergrad is worth the cost of tuition, books, and the productivity costs of taking time away from the working world. You want to earn more money in your career, but are the up-front costs of continued education justified?

Education ROI Calculator

The Costs of Post-College Education

When it comes to graduate degrees and programs the cost is rising. According to College Board, the average cost for a public master’s degree in 2019 is $19,080. For a private master’s program, it costs $42,380. For doctoral programs, the cost rises even higher, with public schools charging $22,750 and private schools costing $58,450. At public institutions, more than half of the cost of those post-graduate degree programs is room and board.

The good news: Digital innovations like online college courses have made alternative forms of education more affordable. When students attend courses on campus, they have to worry about additional costs to tuition, such as:

  • Moving costs
  • Housing
  • Transportation and gas
  • Physical textbooks and other school supplies

There’s also the potential hiatus in employment if a student has to move to a new city or state to attend school, or the demands of a college workload make full-time employment impossible. When considering postgraduate courses, degree-holders often have to leave their field of study for weeks, months, or even years to pursue continued education. This can lead to stagnating career growth and lost wages.

With online courses and certifications, those risks and costs are eliminated. Students can stay where they’re living, keep working if they choose to, and study anywhere on their own device.

What Do Employers Think of Online Education?

Saving money is great, but you also want an education that an employer values so you can get the work you want.

According to U.S. News & World Report, most employers today accept online education. One of the most important factors influencing an employer’s view of online education is the school where you received it from. When online education is accredited, an employer is more likely to value it. Also, online education from nonprofit colleges tend to be favored over for-profit program degrees.

“One aspect of college has become increasingly important, thought, and that is getting a job afterward. The reason for this is in part because the costs of college have risen precisely at the time when the weak economy has left so many families unable to pay for it and also because prospects for students who don’t go to college have collapsed, at least compared to the previous generation.” -Peter Cappelli, Will College Pay Off? A Guide to the Most Important Financial Decision You’ll Ever Make

Post-graduate certifications acquired online not only keep you in the workforce, some employers report that they look favorably on post-baccalaureate certificate programs.

What do employers really want in applicants? Which education style provides the greatest ROI? Use our education ROI calculator for insights.

How to Interpret Your Results

Based on trends from the last two decades, traditional college costs will continue to rise each year, and not always be on par with inflation.

Graduate program costs for on-campus programs are increasing. In 2018, the average cost for annual graduate tuition at public colleges and universities was nearly $30,000. It was nearly $40,000 at private schools.

Online programs help professionals gain essential skills without having to commit to a full graduate degree program. Certification programs online can help professionals move into leadership positions at work, apply for more desirable positions or change careers for a more fulfilling professional life and better work-life balance.

Earning Potential for Various Education

How any certifications or postgraduate degrees will affect your income will depend on factors like your program, career path, where you work, and other factors. There are some average figures that provide insight, though.

A 2018 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found the median usual weekly earnings increase the higher the education an employee has. Median usual weekly earnings include:

  • $836 for an Associate degree
  • $1,173 for a Bachelor’s degree
  • $1,401 for a Master’s degree
  • $1,836 for a Professional degree

Earning potential will vary based on the employer. The career path you want to take may require specific skills you can learn in a single certification program. Certification programs can also show your employer you value education and strive to continue to grow, which can help you advance without having to invest as much as you would in a traditional graduate program.

Postgraduate degrees and certifications can impact various fields in different ways. For example, a graduate degree in fine art may not provide as immediate of a return on investment as an advanced program in the digital marketing would. You can use the Occupational Outlook Handbook to see average profession-based salaries for more insights.

Is Ongoing Education Worth It?

Continuing your education as a professional can be a hard decision to make. Your time and money are valuable. Taking on debt can place a toll on your well-being, affect your family, and have other negative effects.

It’s important to weigh the monetary costs versus the long-term benefits when it comes to education. Wharton Online makes over 50 online courses available, starting at as little as $79 per month. Learn more about Wharton’s innovative online programs, courses and certifications.