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New online feature tells UT system students exactly what their degree is worth

Graduates at UTEP ceremony

College is a costly experience. But is it worth it?

KFOX14 spokes withasked 20 students at UTEP if they would stay on the same degree path if they already knew exactly how much money exactly they’d make with their degree and how much debt they’d be carrying.

The vast majority of the students said they’d stay true to their chosen degree path.

But, Dr. Gary Edens, UTEP’s vice president of students affairs, said the quarter could mean more than just a simple yes or no.

Edens said it’s important for students to know the value of their degree, and plan ahead before they rack up debt.

"You're not going to be super rich if you're going into the education field or in a social service type of field,” Edens said.

People can Google an estimate of how much debt you'll be in and how much money you can make with a particular degree.

Now, with a first of its kind-of-its-kind partnership with the UT System and the U.S. Census Bureau, you can know every dollar people with your degree make and every cent you're going to own in loans.

The new partnership is in the form of an online educational search engine call SeekUT. It shows all of the degrees, how much money people with each degree make, and the amount of debt people with each degree can accumulate once a student graduates.

The three degrees with the highest earnings are: degrees in nursing, electric engineering and mechanical engineering majors.

Nursing majors earn $65,786 in the first year out of college and accumulate $18,616 in loans, according to SeekUT.

Electric engineering majors rake in $54.609,609 in year one with $19,338 in loans. Mechanical engineering majors are earning $52,107 in year one and have $17,639 in loans.

"It's real time-time information that can provide students and families a reality check as far as what's the debt I'm taking out and what's ultimately going to be (needed) to pay off as I Startstartearning a salary with my career,” Edens said.

Not all degrees are money makers. The three lowest earning-earning degrees at UTEP, according to SeekUT, are Public Health degrees in public health, communications and microbiology.

Public heath majors earn $25,967 in year one and owe $13,685 in loans. Communications majors earn $25,405 right out of college and have $19,977 in loans. Microbiologists make $24,863 in year one with $17,093 in loans

Some students told KFOX14 this information may make some people think twice about getting a degree.

"If they know they'll be in debt, then they can make the decision to not continue into college and make something out themselves without a degree,” Michael Renteria said.

"Of course, I think that maybe, some students, they are different and they may consider some other options,” Gaesus Reyes said.

Other students feel that SeekUT will validate them going to college and pursuing a degree.

"But, since I want to be a dentist, I feel like I can't do that without college,” Ryan Portillo said. “Regardless of debt, I'm going have to go to college."

But, Edens said this information obtained from SeekUT will make students come up with smart plans for earning a degree.

"They're going to make decisions based on what they really want to do for the rest of their life,” Edens said, “I don't think students are going to be making a decision strictly on withwhat the projected earnings are 10, 20, 30 years from now."

It's a conversation some parents, including UTEP student Krystal Small, are already having with their children.

"My son is an artist and he wanted to go into graphic design degree versus aerospace engineering,” Small said. “I'm, like, 'Well, let's do aerospace engineer degree and minor in graphic design.' It's hard for the artists and liberal arts degrees because there's not a lot of demand for that."

"That's just the reality,” Edens said. “That's just where the parents’ perspective is coming into a play and thinking about 'How is my son or daughter going to make a career out of this major, how? How are they going to earn money is once they leave home.?'"

While making money is important, some students know they have to set expectations.

"I'm an English major. I'm not going to be making, like, if I'm lucky, $50,000,” Annabelle Vargas said. “But, it's what, I'm passionate about it. I'm not going to change my major based on that."

"I think of it as an investment. I think as long as you like what you're doing; the amount of money you spent on it shouldn't matter that much,” Rafael Baca said.

This new feature SeekUT will also you tell you how much money you will earn with your degree will make you 5 and 10 years into your career.

By the way, the highest earning-earning degree, it'sis one in petroleum engineering at UT-Austin, with a first-year salary of close to $119,000.

You can find a link to the seek u-tSeekUT feature at https://seekut.utsystem.edu/seekuttool.

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