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Will you make more money without a degree?

In her video, Anderson claimed that servers, bartenders and hair stylists make between $70,000 to $100,000 a year — and none of them had to pay for a degree.

“You’ve got your college students who are in $30,000 of debt, making $45,000 a year for the next 10 years because they’re still entry level,” she said. “Then they’re all mad that the person serving them is making more money than them.”

However, her numbers are way off, for those with and without college degrees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that wait staff make a median salary of $29,120 per year and hair stylists $33,400 per year.

Yet, new graduates with a bachelor’s degree make an average salary of $61,869, according to the most recent numbers from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Anderson’s assertion that you’ll make more money without a degree isn’t usually the case. A report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce discovered that, the more degrees, the higher the median salary.

However, there are instances where Anderson is right. That same Georgetown report discovered that a quarter of people who are less educated can surpass the earnings of those with more advanced degrees. For instance, a quarter of people with high school diplomas outearn those with associate's degrees.

Rich and famous people without degrees, such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, prove that this can happen — but it’s the exception more so than the rule.

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Is student debt worth it?

Anderson pointed out in her video that college graduates usually carry a good chunk of student debt.

This is an important point when considering college. The Federal Reserve found that 30% of all college graduates took out student loans. They owe a median amount between $20,000 and $24,999.

The federal government has even realized how badly the student loan crisis is hurting the economy. Former President Donald Trump paused student loan payments in 2020. President Biden honored that pause up until October 2023. But he has also forgiven $138 billion in student debt for almost 3.9 million borrowers so far.

The Education Data Initiative reported that it takes a student loan borrower an average of 18.5 to 21 years to pay back their debt. That’s a lot of money to give the government, as well as a lot of time that you’re not saving and investing as much as you could be.

Should you go to college?

There’s no denying the data overwhelmingly disagrees with Anderson: a college degree will bring you more money in the long-run.

Picking a lucrative major is the way to get the most bang for your tuition bucks. Engineering, pharmacy and computer science are the top three majors with the highest payoffs. So if you’re worried about your student loans, choose carefully.

If you plan to work in a field that requires a degree, such as teaching or medicine, consider going to a less expensive school or attending one that offers hefty financial aid and scholarships.

School isn’t for everyone, but in many cases it’s a pathway to a higher net worth.

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About the Author

Sabina Wex

Sabina Wex

Reporter

Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.

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