Is College Really Worth It? Study Says Yes But the Truth Is a Little More Complicated

University tuitions are growing every year, but is going to college really worth the expense? A new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco seems to say yes. According to their estimates, the average college grad earns $800,000 more over a lifetime than the average high school grad. Assuming a student pays about $20,000 or less per year in tuition, they should expect to recoup that investment by the age of 38. And even you're at a dreaded private institution, shelling out $50,000 per year (or even more), it's theoretically worth it in the long run.

Of course, it would be too simplistic to say that college is worth it in all cases, though. The Federal Reserve Bank study looks at the average college grad versus the average high school grad. For one thing, there are notable outliers, like Steve Jobs who became a billionaire without ever going to college, or people who go to college and wind up destitute anyway (file that under "my nightmares").

But even more importantly, looking at the "average" college grad means not considering how things like what someone majored in or what school they attended figure in. Some schools offer so little pay off that students would be better off not going at all, financially speaking. And it's not a secret that some majors are more lucrative than others. If you're going into business or science, you've likely got a financial leg up over most people going into humanities fields.

Still, for the average college student it seems that college is financially worth it — which is encouraging for those of us wondering if our education will ever pay for itself. Still, this doesn't really negate the fact that college tuition costs are getting out of control in this country. While other countries provide quality state-sponsored education for little money — often limiting how high tuition can legally be — the United States continues to see tuition rise each year to ever more ridiculous heights. Some schools now charge their students $60,000 a year. Meanwhile, in the UK being charged 9,000 pounds (about $15,000) seems noteworthy.

So, if you're facing down impending graduation and a lackluster job market, wondering if your education was really worth it, know that it probably will be in the long run. But that doesn't mean your tuition wasn't unreasonable — or that your education will make you happy; that one you have to figure out on your own.