Go Build Tennessee find your career
April 22, 2024

College or trade school? It’s up to your wallet

Unlock a Rewarding Future: Tennessee's booming construction and trade industries offer high-paying careers with 315,000 job openings projected in the next three years. Say goodbye to student debt and hello to limitless growth potential. Start earning from day one and build a successful career without a four-year degree.

This article originally appeared on WKRN.com.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Vanderbilt University received considerable attention earlier this month after the New York Times reported it will cost some students nearly $100,000 to go there next school year.

At the same time, some trade schools are reporting higher enrollment as some high school students skip college altogether.

College is already expensive, but the cost of higher education is continuing to increase.

Georgetown University reported that from 1980 to 2020, the average price of tuition, fees, and boarding for undergraduate degrees in the U.S. increased by 169%.

The average tuition at private colleges rose by 4% in 2022, according to U.S. News and World Report data. Public in-state schools average $10,500 with an annual increase of 0.8% for in-state students and 1% for out-of-state students.

Julia Ballard, a student at Trevecca Nazarene University, told News 2 that when it came time to look at her next steps after high school, cost was the biggest concern for her.

“My family faced some employment troubles, and so going into my freshman year of college, one of my parents was unemployed…Thinking about attending a private university for four years outside of state would have obviously been a bit more pricey than my in-state university,” Ballard explained. “I’m from Houston, so I looked at a couple places in Texas because I had to kind of consider my family’s financial situation at the time.”

The New York Times reported last week that some Vanderbilt students will have “$100,000 in total expenses” next school year, but that is not the case for most students.

Back in February, Vanderbilt University decided to offer full-tuition scholarships to admitted students whose annual family income is $150,000 or less.

“You’re changing thought processes, and sometimes maybe even a stereotype of ‘Oh, I can’t afford that kind of an institution,’” Douglas Christiansen, vice provost for enrollment affairs and dean of admissions and financial aid at Vanderbilt University, said. “When the reality of it is, again, 64% of our students receive some kind of aid.”

Ballard explained that when she graduates from Trevecca Nazarene University, her scholarships and financial aid will leave her with zero debt after graduation.

However, according to U.S. News and World Report data, the average college graduate will face nearly $30,000 in debt.

Cost and time efficiency drive trade school enrollment higher each year.

“They want that instant gratification of earn and learn and start saving money at the very beginning instead of spending money,” said Steve VanDerVoorde with Van De Voorde Services, LLC.

“Students, unfortunately, that come here already with a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree but haven’t quite found their niche or their lane or employment, to be quite honest with you,” Quincy Giles, campus director of admissions at Lincoln College of Technology (formerly Nashville Auto-Diesel College), explained. “So with that and speaking with students of that nature, we’re starting to also see more students from high school coming straight to the trade, like, you know, ‘We’re skipping the four-year route.’”

Whether you attend a four-year university or trade school, both are trying to win over students.

“We see the benefit of the trades, we see the demand, and we see the cost of universities going up,” Guiles said.

According to the Federal Reserve, the combined student loan balance is $1.77 trillion this year. Federal Student Aid reports Tennessee students owe an average of $26,000.

take the next step