As a college graduate who is still paying on my student loans, I have always wondered if college was worth the cost. Of course, any college admission staff will tell you that it is worth it. That the money you spend up front furthering your education will pay for itself and make you more money over a lifetime than someone who doesn’t have a college degree. But, given the current economy, is this still true? Is college still worth the cost?

It seems that Americans have lost their faith in college so to speak. According to a survey done in 2008, 81 percent of adults polled believe college is worth the cost. However, a more recent survey found that only 57 percent of those polled believe college is worth the cost.

Of course the economy and ever-increasing college costs can be blamed for this change in view, but I believe there are also a few other factors that effect this, especially in a college town like Missoula.

Missoula is a college town and it is filled (almost to the brim) with people who have a degree of some kind or another. Young people come here to go to school and end up falling in love with the area and never want to leave. Therefore, we have people who are paying off thousands of dollars in student loans and are making $9 an hour as a cashier at a local hardware store.

Another problem with living in a college town is that everyone has the same education. With The University of Montana being known for its Business and Law schools, the town is flooded with business majors and lawyers. You are hard pressed to find an engineer or a marine biologist in Missoula. It’s difficult making a living with just a simple bachelor’s degree in business here. A master’s degree in business in this town will get you paid what a bachelor’s degree gets you paid anywhere else.

Many of the jobs I’ve had since leaving college have only paid slightly better for me than for someone who didn’t have a four-year degree. I’ve often wondered if the money I spent in college was really worth it, especially when I’m writing the check to pay my student loan bills.

So, what do you think? Is college worth the price you pay for it?

Joy Larson is a mother of four boys, graduate of the University of Montana, animal lover and writer.