For most people choosing to pursue a college degree taking out student loans to pay for their tuition is unavoidable. But is the degree worth the massive amount of student loan debt you will face upon graduation? Last week we looked at the statistics for the most popular graduate level degrees, but what about undergraduate level degrees? On average, many undergraduate degree graduates have a much more favorable outlook of repaying their student loan debt more quickly than those with graduate level degrees. We gathered together information on the average amount of student loan debt accumulated and the average amount of time it takes to pay it off for the most popular undergraduate level degrees obtained.

Of course, the actual amount of student loan debt a borrower will accrue and the actual amount of time it will take them to repay that debt will vary from one borrower to the next and is dependent upon a number of variable factors such as the terms of the loan, the amount of their interest rate, the salary they obtain in their chosen career being enough to make the monthly payment, etc. In this guide, we are looking only at the averages and are assuming the borrower will be able to obtain a job within their field at the average salary for their industry upon graduation.

Physical Therapists and Massage Therapists

 

In order for an individual to become a physical therapy assistant, they would need to obtain an associate degree in physical therapy. The average overall student loan debt for this type of degree is about $19,000 and the median salary for a physical therapy assistant is $46,920. It takes the average physical therapy assistant about 16 years to completely pay off their student loan debt.

In order for an individual to become a massage therapist, they need only a massage therapy certification. While they will not be earning a degree, the average massage therapy student still needs to take out student loans in order to complete the courses they need to take in order to become certified. The average overall student loan debt for a massage therapy certification is $8,000 and the median salary for a massage therapist is $39,900. It takes the average massage therapist approximately 8 and a half years to completely pay off their student loan debt.

Teachers and Social Workers

 

When looking at the comparison of overall student loan debt to the average salary for each specific field, teachers and social workers are the least likely to be able to pay off their student loan debt if they do not receive any type of student loan forgiveness. Because of this, there are federal aid programs that help individuals within these fields qualify for student loan forgiveness on a portion of their loans after meeting certain requirements for a specified amount of time. Without these federal aid and student loan forgiveness programs, it would take the average teacher and social worker more than 30 years to completely pay off their student loan debt if they were able to make payments high enough to cover more than just the interest at all.

As we discussed last week, most states require an individual to have a master’s degree in teaching in order to become a teacher; however, there are a few states in which an individual is required only to have a bachelor’s degree in education in order to become a teacher. The average overall student loan debt for this type of degree is $37,172 and the median salary for an incoming public-school teacher is $38,617.

The numbers are just as daunting for social workers. In order for an individual to become a social worker, they would need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in social work. The average overall student loan debt for this type of degree is $39,880 and the median salary for a social worker is $47,980.

Registered Nurses

 

In order for an individual to become a registered nurse (RN), they would need to obtain an associate degree in nursing. The average overall student loan debt for this type of degree is about $30,000 and the median salary for a registered nurse is $67,490. It takes the average registered nurse approximately 8 and a half years to completely pay off their student loan debt.

Dental Hygienists

 

In order for an individual to become a dental hygienist, they would need to obtain an associate degree in dental hygiene. The average overall student loan debt for this type of degree is about $22,692 and the median salary for a dental hygienist is $72,330. It takes the average dental hygienist approximately 6 years to completely pay off their student loan debt.

Writers / Authors / Editors

 

Although it is not necessarily required for a writer, author, or editor to have a college degree, many individuals pursuing these careers do obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree in English as it expands their opportunities for success. The average overall student loan debt for this type of degree is $39,880 and the median salary for writers and authors is $61,820, while the median salary for editors is $56,010. It takes the average writer / author / editor with this type of degree about 20 years to completely pay off their student loan debt.

Electrical Engineers / Civil Engineers and Software Developers

 

In order for an individual to become a civil engineer or an electrical engineer, they would need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or electrical engineering. The average overall student loan debt for this type of degree is $40,976 and the median salary for a civil engineer is $83,540 and for an electrical engineer is $97,970. It takes the average civil engineer or electrical engineer about 7 or 8 years to completely pay off their student loan debt.

In order for an individual to become a software developer, they would need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in software development. The average overall student loan debt for this type of degree is $80,000 and the median salary for a software developer is $103,560. It takes the average software developer approximately 16 years to completely pay off their student loan debt.

If you have already taken out a large amount of student loans for one of these degrees and are struggling to pay it back, contact the specialists at the Student Loan Advisory Group to discuss the many options we have available to assist you.