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May 23, 2021

Is a university education really worth all that money?

Unless they live in Quebec, few people will tell you that they were surprised at the cost of getting a degree. The root of of their subsequent dissatisfaction is that the investment didn’t deliver as promised and that they may have wasted their money.

Wealthy entrepreneur Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal, agrees. In fact, he's convinced that university simply isn't worth the cost anymore. That's why he's encouraging high-performing students to drop out to become entrepreneurs.

But critics maintain that Thiel's program, "The 20 Under 20 Fellowship," which pays $100,000 each to at least 20 students each year, is an elitist ploy that foolishly encourages promising students to drop out before they're ready to put their ideas to work.

"While you might get lucky with that startup, the law of averages says that if you don’t go to college, you’ll probably end up significantly poorer, counters Stanford prof Vivek Wadhwa

More importantly, the average earning power of college graduates has climbed steadily while the average earning power of those without college degrees has dropped precipitously, he adds.

While university students are likely paying more and getting less than previous generations did, do they really have a choice? Ideas are a dime a dozen. For most, it's the schooling that helps bring those ideas to life.

Here's a handful of recent grads who think their money was well spent. While clearly worried about paying back their student loan debt, none expect to have traditional full-time jobs. And it doesn't seem to bother them that much.

What about you? Has university paid off? Do you expect that it will?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...