Your Career Starts HERE Calculator

“Knowledge is power.”

Admittedly an overused phrase, but overused for good reason. Beyond the fact that it is undeniably accurate, it applies to almost every situation – especially when one must make a difficult decision that will impact the rest of their lives! This could include decisions like choosing a career path, or figuring out if you are going to go to college or not.

Demonstrating their deep appreciation for the challenge high school students and their families face when deciding what comes after graduation, The Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce developed a tool to help: The Your Career Starts HERE Calculator.

Designed to empower decision makers through access to information (Remember…knowledge is power!) the Your Career Starts HERE Calculator automatically analyzes the starting salary, tuition costs, and student loan interest associated with the career path you would like to pursue, at the specific schools you are considering. Using the calculator will allow you to answer questions like…

  • What will my total educational investment be?
  • How much will I have to pay towards my loans each month after I graduate?
  • How long will it take me to pay off my debt?
  • How much of my monthly salary will be left after my loan payments?

Having these answers provides a glimpse into the financial futures that prospective career and educational paths could lead to.

With this insight, making the hard choice of what comes after graduation gets less complicated. The Your Career Starts HERE Calculator gives families the knowledge they need to confidently answer the previously daunting, “What comes next?” question. Read on for details as to how to get the most out of the tool and see an example.

How it works:

  1. Go to https://starttheconversationhere.com/career_calculator/.
  2. Choose the career you are interested in pursuing from the provided list. (Tips: You may not find the exact name, but they keyword search makes it easy to find something close! The calculator automatically shows the national median starting salary and will incorporate it into the calculation.)
  3. Enter the school you would like to attend and the number of years the program will take to complete. (Tips: The cost of in-state tuition is provided automatically for Pennsylvania schools. To get the most accurate results, use the search function to go to the school's website and find out how much the total cost is per year then manually enter that number. If you're unsure about how many years the program will take, visit the academic programs page for each school or talk to your school counselor to find out!)
  4. Adjust Loan Terms to your preferences (estimates are provided based on national averages for student loans). Private lender interest rates will vary. (Tip: The Calculator does not take financial aid or scholarships into consideration.)

Example from the Calculator:

Career: Elementary School Teacher

Median Starting Yearly Salary = $37,780

School: Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

Total Education Costs:

Tuition---------------7,716.00

Fees-----------------3,241.00

Room----------------6,918.00

Meal Plan---------- 3,550.00

= $21,425

x 4 years (length of program)

= $85,700

Loan Interest--- + $20,980 (4.53% / 120 months)

TOTAL: $106,680.00

So, what does this mean for me once I complete my program and become employed within this career field?

Monthly Income (after taxes) = $2,424

Monthly Loan Payment = $889

What’s Left? = $1,535

What's left would be used to cover all other expenses such as rent, a car payment and insurance, groceries, utilities, etc.

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Written ByCPWDC