Are IT degrees now more expensive than they’re worth?

April 18, 2010 Alexander G. Chamandy educationtechnology

In this economy every single dollar counts.  We have to stretch our money like never before.  That’s why I thought it was a good time to pose the very question that this article is about, are IT degrees now too expensive?

The price of paper

It seems to me that the short answer is “yes”, degrees are far too expensive for the rewards they provide in many vocations, but especially in information technology and related fields.

The average price for a private four year program is about $30,000 per year.  It can take seven or more years to pay off this debt in the average student loan program from Sallie Mae, the largest provider of student loans.

Antiquated data

You wouldn’t know it, because no professor would easily admit it, but the information is already out of date by the time it’s in a curriculum.  It takes usually at least one to two years for new information to make it in to a college course.

What does that translate to? Students being taught an education that often times is no longer applicable in the real world.  Many of the courses and even the general concepts may be obsolete.  In a field that changes as rapidly as technology up to date information is paramount.


Students also have to deal with the rise in tuition priceslack of availability for student loans, outsourcing of just about every IT job and increasingly high expectations and lower pay for the same skills that used to fetch lofty sums a just few years ago.

Since the late 1990s tuition prices are up over 400%.  That’s nearly four times the cost of living increase families faced during the same period of time. The debt one has to accumulate is more difficult to escape from as a result, especially as interest rates are expected to rise.

What’s the alternative?

Real world experience, creativity and having a passion for knowledge are requisite.  Many of my most successful friends in IT avoided the debt that comes with a degree to pursue their dreams by starting at the ground level without college.

It may seem daunting, but in today’s economy where U6 DOL unemployment is about 17%, don’t expect to get your dream job with just a piece of paper.  Ambition, hard work and patience are the best path to success.


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