Is it worth it?

There’s no arguing a college education is valuable. True, many Americans earn sizable incomes without a formal education, but a degree leads to higher lifetime earnings and better career opportunities. And that’s even more true for graduate and advanced degrees.

And while the totals sound astronomical, when you get right down to it, almost everyone can afford to go to college one way or another. First, few students actually pay those sky-high published prices. What’s more, efforts by federal and state governments in recent years have made college more affordable in the form of tax credits, savings plans, financial aid, loans, grants and work-study programs. The key is in planning. Start as early as possible. Educate yourself about the costs and programs you or your children may qualify for. Be realistic in your goals and choice of schools. Between savings, scholarships, grants and loans, any student should be able to make the dream of a college education come true.