How much does a university degree cost? Is it really convenient not to study enough?

By bitbollo | M1scellaneous | 30 Jan 2022

Short premise:
I work closely with the Italian university, and I have many friends in this sector.
Much of this information is related to the Italian situation but in a certain degree of confidence it can be applied to any nation
Mine analysis does not want to be understood as a criticism, or a way to judge the work of those, friends or colleagues who are still at university, but simply as a "mathematical calculation", or else how much does a university degree cost?

fictional image of bitbollo while studying at university
No, if you intend to buy it, like someone once did with diplomas[1], you are out of the way.
This article tries to calculate how much is spent to study at an Italian university. More or less it’s the same in every country/university with some little changes. Mine are neither precise nor statistical data, but by reasoning in summary we are still able to draw simple conclusions.

I know very well that among you readers, very few, support themselves financially. But those who are helped by their parents/family, very often forget the weight of this effort.

Let's begin:
Five-year degree requires at least [12 months x 5 years] 60 months of expenses.
Less than 60 months (excluding the very rare contemporary "white flies"[2]) it is really difficult to finish a degree program, and in some cases practically impossible.

Within the month we can find some fixed and unavoidable expenses:

= single room in a decent apartment 
150 x 12 = 1800 per year (small city)
300 x 12 = 3600 per year (large city)

TRANSPORT = from your municipality of residence to the university city, around 400 euros per year

FOOD = 150 euros per month = 1800 per year

MONTHLY POCKET MONEY (LEISURE) = 100 euros per month = 1200 per year

BOOKS = 150 euros per year(let's assume that you use a lot of free handouts or notes)

300 euros per year
500 per year (in the case of the university of the big city, more prestigious)

I do not consider other expenses (such as reaching the university or parking costs) ... or any other expenses such as the purchase of material necessary for the course of study (or the simple furniture of a rented room which is always an eventuality).

Let's add up all these expense items (small town):
1800 x 5 = 5-year rent 9000 euros
400 x 5 =5-years transport 2000 euros
1800 x 5 = 5-year food 9000 euros
1200 x 5 = 5 years pocket money 6000 euros
150 x 5 = 5-years books 750 euros
300 x 5 = 5-years fees 1500 euros
for a total of: € 28,250
This is the case of "a model student" (graduates in just 5 years) in a small town (so rent is not expensive).

We add up all the items of expenditure (large city)
3600 x 5 =5-years 18000 euros 
400 x 5 =5-years transport 2000 euros
1800 x 5 = 5-years food 9000 euros
1200 x 5 = 5 years pocket money 6000 euros
150 x 5 = 5-years books 750 euros
500 x 5 = 5-years fees 2500 euros
for a total of: € 38,250
This is the case of "a model student" (he graduates in just 5 years) in a big city (ergo expensive rent), the transport costs can be considered identical to the previous case since those who live far from home tend to travel less during the course of the year.
But taxes are rising as they are expected to study at a more prestigious university.

Now let's pull down the bill for another type of student, let's call him the "average" student or the one who manages to graduate in 7 years, in a small city.
I only list items that vary:
1800 x 7 = 7-years rent 12600 euros
400 x 7 = 7-years transport 2800 euros
1800 x 7 = food for 7-years 12600 euros
1200 x 7 =7-years pocket money 8400 euros
300 x 7 =7-years fees 2100 euros
for a total of: € 38,500
The average student at the same cost could have studied at a more prestigious university if she had budgeted for more study (more constant effort or simply luck).
An increase in the cost of the degree by 30%!

An average student in the second situation will face the following expenses:
3600 x 7 = 25200 euros (7 years rent)
400 x 7 = transport 2800 euros
1800 x 7 = food for 7-years 12600 euros
1200 x 7 =7-years pocket money 8400 euros
500 x 7 =7-years tax 3500 euros
for a total of: € 52,500
Just 2 more years increase the cost of the degree by well over 40%!
A greater increase in proportion to the years, compared to studying in a "small town".

Many of you will say these are sacrifices that must be made, and it is normal not to be able to graduate in time, on the other hand there are so many factors that can influence this result that it is difficult to be able to make effective predictions a priori.

In any case, we can determine a maximum, or a threshold beyond which a degree becomes "useless" or at least costs so much that the same amount invested somewhere else could guarantee higher yields.
Let's take the listless student, the one who changes an indefinite number of faculties, never has time to study, when he does, he does it in the worst possible ways, is always engaged in activities that are not related to study and it is much easier to meet him all the evenings out and about at home on books.

Here this type of student on average takes 12 years to graduate.

2 years to understand where he is able to study and maybe even to be passionate about what he does.
10 years to give the subjects (he needs his time as he is not a nerd).

How much will this degree cost in a small town
400 x 12 = transport 12 years 4800 euros
1800 x12 = 12 year rent 21600 euros
1800 x 12 = 12-year food 21,600 euros
1200 x 12 = 12 year pocket money 14400 euros
150 x 12 = 5-year books 750 euros (does not vary)
300 x 12 = 12 year fees 3600 euros
for a total of: € 66750 
Equal to 2.3628 times more than a degree taken in 5 years (236.28%).

It is a figure that might seem uninteresting or not "expensive", but at the average of 12 thousand euros a year earned to redeem our "studio" it will take 5.5 years of work!
In the first case (model student) only 2.5 years! In the second case (average student) only 3.1 years !!!!
I will save you the student calculation in a prestigious university but you have understood how the costs rise and how much time it will take to work to return from this investment.
While the average student will have doubled their college investment, a listless student will barely have finished paying off their investment.

I wonder... are we sure, that it is better for us students not to commit ourselves properly?
Make our parents spend money and resources without rationalizing how much work is behind the expenses we face every day that we often consider acquired rights when in reality they are not?

I don't want to be controversial, I want to accuse anyone, but deep down, I believe that commitment always pays off, and in a society that is increasingly demanding of efficient resources, one can no longer rest on one's laurels, underestimate university studies, be listless students.


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