Reality Check: Can You Afford That Major?

Posted by IPFW Admissions Team on 11/3/15 9:00 AM

Jar of coins marked College FundIf you’re still mulling over what to major in, here’s something you might not have considered: cost.

Beyond the standards of tuition and assorted fees, different majors can come with different price tags through costs both direct and indirect. These might include:

  • Resources you need for classes, like books, calculators, software, and supplies
  • Whether or not you’ll continue on to a more advanced degree afterwards (e.g., medical or law degrees)
  • The type of major (medical degrees, as an example, tend to cost more)
  • Whether it’s an associate degree (two years), bachelor’s degree (four years), or a master’s (two to three years, sometimes more)
  • The school you attend (e.g., state school versus Ivy League)
  • Where you’re from (in-state, out-of-state, or international)

Sometimes the costs can be surprising. Textbooks can be expensive, particularly if you need a lot of them—it’s not unheard of for English majors to spend $500–$600 on books alone each semester.

These costs can add up quickly. For a better idea of the price of your intended major, check out CollegeCalc’s database of college majors and associated costs.


A Return on Your Investment

Some majors tend to increase your chances of higher earnings potential (read: a bigger, better salary) after you graduate.

For example, somebody majoring in computer science or mechanical engineering may have a better chance of landing a higher paying job than a liberal arts major.

If you’re concerned about getting a return on your investment, weighing the costs of your major against your earnings potential after you graduate is a smart idea. This can help you avoid taking on a ton of student loan debt that you’ll struggle to pay off.

We suggest talking to your school’s financial aid counselor to help you make money-wise decisions about your major and your financial aid.

Many universities also offer career counselors, who can help you better understand the job market and possibilities after you graduate.

Finally, check out our guide on the Top Four Majors with the Best Entry-Level Opportunities.

One last note: the cost of a major shouldn’t necessarily deter you from doing what you really want to do. Many college degrees and areas of study are flexible, and can lead to some surprising career opportunities.

There are many financial aid resources available that you can take advantage of to help pay for your expenses while in school—including “free” financial aid opportunities like scholarships and grants. 

Download our eBook, Majors and Careers 101: A Guide for Undecided Students Applying to Colleges by clicking the button below:

Get the Majors and Careers 101 Guide

Topics: Financial Aid, Choosing a Major





Search the Blog