How much will new college grads make? Less than they’re expecting

Credit: Christopher Furlong

Credit: Christopher Furlong

Despite a positive job outlook new college grads will not make as much money as they expect to right out of school, a recent study shows.

Typical college students expect to make a median salary of around $60,000 right out of college, according to a survey of 7,000 students from LendEDU, a website that allows people to compare financial products, such as student loans. But, the actual median salary for recent college grads is $48,400, according to the organization.

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A Dayton Daily News investigation found that’s mostly in line with area universities, where graduates often make a median starting salary anywhere from $37,000 to $69,000. The wide range of beginning pay is the difference between the starting salary of a teacher or an engineer, said Jen Franchak, assistant vice president of Miami University’s center for career exploration and success.

“I think there is a disconnect,” Franchak said. “But, they quickly learn about it when they do start that very first job search.”

How much a new grad may make also depends on where they get their first job, said Jason Eckert, director of the University of Dayton’s career services. Jobs in bigger cities or coastal ones tend to pay more, he said.

“We have graduates going all over the country,” Eckert said. “In some cities, that salary is going to go pretty far whereas graduates who choose to work in a very large metro market will find that it doesn’t.”

Some student may expect to make a higher salary simply because the economy has been on the rise in recent years, Franchak said. Around 43 percent of organizations in the fall of 2018 said they planned to hire more college graduates, according to a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The job market is expected to remain strong for students graduating this spring, officials from Miami, Cedarville and UD all said. The class of 2019 will likely be hired at a similar rate to last spring or slightly higher, they said.

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Employer attendance at career fairs has been high over the past year and several students have already secured jobs or internships to start after graduation, both Reep and Eckert said.

“I think the economy overall is pretty good,” Reep said. “There is demand and it’s an employee market at this point.”

One way students can try to ensure their starting salary is a little higher is by negotiating, said Jeff Reep, director of career services at Cedarville University. Negotiating a higher salary upfront will also “pay dividends” down the road when it comes to paying off student loan debt and raises, Reep said.

Reep likened the back and forth of negotiating to a game of tennis and said if an employer serve up an offer that job seekers shouldn’t be afraid to “volley” one back. If an employer is unwilling to budge on salary, Reep said recent grads should see if employers are willing to negotiate over vacation or benefits.

“It’s never bad if a student does try to negotiate, especially on entry level positions,” Reep said. “It really does depend on their attitude, their appeal.”


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By the numbers

$60,000: National median salary recent college grads expect.

$48,400: Actual national median salary for recent college grads.

$51,000: Median starting salary for recent Miami grads.

$49,882: Median starting salary for recent UD grads.

$45,000: Estimated starting salary for recent Cedarville grads.

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