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UNDATED (CNN) -- The cost of college is higher than ever. But is it worth it? A new study shows paying more for college doesn't always translate into a high-paying job and there could be a cheaper, shorter alternative.

This study found that shelling out more money, and more time, for a four-year college degree does not always mean you'll land a job with a better salary.

The study, from CollegeMeasures.org found that graduates of some two-year degree programs, like associates and occupational certificate programs, often earn just as much if not more as workers with four-year degrees.

Researchers analyzed the earnings of recent grads from Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

And here's a good example in Texas: people with technical associates degrees earned a median annual salary of just over $50,000s in their first year after graduation. That's $11,000 more on average than those with full bachelor degrees.

But don't go quit your four-year program yet. Experts suggest taking the long view: the research showed that college graduates of four year programs out-earned associate degree holders over the course of their career. It just takes some time to get past that first year.

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