Editorial: Nursing master's degree a valuable addition at Harper
Student loan borrowers in the U.S. today owe a whopping $1.6 trillion. Those who took on debt to earn a bachelor's degree in 2017 left school with an average of $28,650 in student loans in 2017, according to the personal finance website NerdWallet, which cites the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.
That $1.6 trillion spread out among 45 million borrowers represents a half trillion dollars more than the nation's credit card debt.
Those who seek out advanced degrees owe a lot more. Today, the average debt for a medical school graduate is $196,520, for a dental school graduate it's $285,184.
It's enough to make your head spin.
But we're fortunate to live in an area with a variety of community colleges whose offerings are getting increasingly more sophisticated, where you don't necessarily need to leave home to get a bachelor's degree. And in one case (so far), you can even earn a master's degree.
Gone are the days when community colleges are solely the province of adult learning and trades. It's become the standard to not only offer associate's degrees in myriad disciplines but also offer, primarily through partnerships with universities, bachelor's degree programs.
This fall, Harper College in Palatine will offer for the first time a master's degree in nursing.
Diplomas will carry the seal of DePaul University, under a partnership between the university and the community college.
Each term, students will take one course at Harper and another online, according to a recent story by our Chris Placek.
"The industry is saying, 'We want nurses to be as educated as possible,'" Harper's director of nursing Julie D'Agostino told Placek, "Nursing is a popular career, and it's because we need nurses and because our population is aging."
Similar to College of Lake County's University Center in Grayslake, Harper developed partnerships with DePaul, Northern Illinois University and Roosevelt University last year to make it easier and cheaper for students to earn bachelor's degrees.
All classes are held at Harper, and students are given discounts on tuition from the partnering universities.
For many prospective college students, the cost of tuition and books can be daunting. The cost of room and board only compounds the issue.
This type of resource can be a boon to those who want or need to stay close to home and to those who don't want to spend a good chunk of every paycheck repaying student debt, especially in less lucrative careers.
A master's degree in nursing is a great start, and Harper is a good place to do it. We hope this option takes off across the suburbs.