Who says you need a college degree to get a good-paying job?
Not Chris DiStefano, the owner and COO of a New York construction company that is providing good-paying jobs with full benefits to teens straight out of high school.
His company, Harrison & Burrowes Bridge Constructors, works with the Questar III BOCES program to offer summer apprenticeships for high school students that can translate to a full-time position after graduation. Laborers can be paid between $65,000-$75,000 annually and put as much as $30,000 away per year in a pension.
DiStefano spoke to Fox & Friends Thursday morning about the opportunities available for teens and young adults who don’t want to take on debt to go to college.
“We’ve been able to take in high school students that are juniors going into their senior year and give them 200 hours’ worth of work at our main office in Albany,” DiStefano explained. “They get some hands-on experience and there’s opportunity for them to come on with us full-time after graduation.”
“College isn’t for everybody,” DiStefano said. “With the rising cost of tuition, we can provide a great opportunity for those folks that may not, you know, the path to college may not be the best path for them.”
Harrison & Burrowes works to build, maintain, and repair bridges. DiStefano said that it can be a challenge to find qualified workers, but that his company takes the apprenticeship program “very seriously.”
“We’re taking it very seriously and doing all the things on our end to make a sustainable future,” he said.
A good-paying job for non-college-graduates can save some people tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
The average tuition cost to attend a public four-year college or university in the United States was $9,400 in 2020-21, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Over four years, students are expected to pay an average of $37,600 for a bachelor’s degree at a public institution. Tuition costs at private or for-profit schools were nearly double on average.
Many Americans take on loans to cover those costs. Of the class of 2019, 62% graduated with student debt, according to the most recent data available from the Institute for College Access & Success. Those students owe an average of $28,950. A total of 45 million Americans currently hold a collective $1.75 trillion in federal and private student loan debt, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
But for some, the benefits of a college degree may outweigh the costs. Americans with a high school diploma or GED made an average of $39,000 in 2020, while those who went to college and graduated with a bachelor’s degree made $73,000 on average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The government has also set an expectation that some federal student loan debt may be canceled. President Joe Biden last month announced a plan to unilaterally forgive $10,000 of student loan debt for federal borrowers earning less than $125,000 per year. However, the plan was criticized by some who argue student loan forgiveness incentivizes colleges and universities to increase tuition rates and borrowers to take out higher loans to cover those costs.