It pays to get a college education

Wealth-X, a Singapore based financial intelligence company together with UBS released the popular annual billionaire census a few weeks ago. The report provided insights into the educational background of around 2,300 billionaires and their findings undermine the typical image of the wealthy as being self-taught, self-starters who trained on the family market stall.

Almost two-thirds of these billionaires have a university degree, one quarter have post-graduate degrees and more than 1 in 10 have a doctorate. Below is a list of universities ranked in order of the number of billionaires who attended.

1. University of Pennsylvania

2. Harvard University

3. Yale University

4. University of Southern California

5. Princeton University

6. Cornell University

7. Stanford University

8. University of California, Berkeley

9. University of Mumbai

10. London School of Economics

11. Lomonosov Moscow State University

12. University of Texas

13. Dartmouth College

14. University of Michigan

15. New York University

16. Duke University

17. Columbia University

18. Brown University

19. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

20. ETH Zurich


Fees in private non-profit universities in America rose by 28% in real terms in the decade to 2012, and have continued to rise. Public universities increased their fees by 27% in the five years to 2012. Their average fees are now almost $8,400 for students studying in state, and more than $19,000 for the rest. At private colleges average tuition is more than $30,000 (two-thirds of students benefit from bursaries of one sort or another). More than half of universities in England and Wales charge the maximum of £9,000 (US$14,550) per year – but at some universities, the annual tuition fees is around £6,000 (US$9,700) for undergraduate home students. Postgraduate tuition fees differ depending on the university and the subject.

Conventional wisdom would indicate that: a university degree pays handsomely. On average, university graduates will earn around 60% more per year than someone with only a Matriculation Certificate and going to university remains a strong investment in terms of improving the chance of a higher-income job. Clearly, one of the best investments you can make as a parent for your children is an investment in their higher education which would enable them to achieve greater personal and financial success.

As with any large savings goal, it is best to start investing early for your children’s secondary or tertiary education. In partnership with your financial adviser first, set your goal: Figure out how much you will need to save for each child based on his/her age. Then, develop an investment plan and stick with it. Talk to the education fee planning experts at Gladstone Morgan for more on this topic.

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