TULSA, OK (KJRH) — As college tuition continues to rise and student debt skyrockets, graduates are finding different ways to manage their money after high school.
The cost for a four-year college has quadrupled in the past three decades. In Oklahoma, high school students are getting more opportunities to earn college credits. Some are skipping college altogether, entering the workforce earlier to avoid the cost of a university.
TCC has the largest dual credit to college degree program in the state, with one in five participants going through the community college. In the program, students pay for less than half of their credit-hours. Per year, it's also a lot cheaper than college bachelor programs.
It takes a lot of hard work, but it helps students like Maria Perez earn credit to save money in college.
Perez is the first in her family to graduate college, earning two associate degrees as she graduates Keifer High School. She walks at TCC on May 12, and at Keifer on May 17.
"My parents are super excited and they’re really proud of me," Perez said. "I’m really excited because I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot just in high school."
Over the past nine years, the program at TCC has grown by more than 200%. Over that span of time, student loan debt in the country has also grown to more than $1.5 trillion. That's the largest non-housing debt in the country.
Many other high school graduates are going straight to trade school, for several reasons.
"I was able to get a job right away," Tulsa Tech graduate Geng Yang said. "With the four-year degree, you do have to take a little time and you accrue a lot of debt over time, so if you do not have a good job right away to put all that money down, it can build up over time."
Yang says those who wanted to start a family early, or simply didn't have the money for university, have used trade school as a way to get a sure, well-paying, job quickly. But whether it's a four-year track, or eight months of trade school, for today's students money is always on the mind.
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox. Select from these options: Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines and Daily Forecasts.