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So, the way I see it, someone in his position potentially comes up about $300,000 ahead (on graduation day) of the guy who went to school for 6 years and took out those loans.
You should also consider the cost of working. A construction worker uses health as a resource for working, far more so than a scientist. So when a scientist can continue working and getting raises, at say 70, then the construction worker is most likely already retired with a worn out body.