Poverty is a reality for many who obtain a degree of higher education and enter the workforce immediately after graduation. Funding an education for many may lead to student loan debt that is often virtually impossible to repay. This often leads many to believe that the debt incurred from obtaining a degree of higher education may not be worth the gain. The purpose of this paper is explore several articles that report on higher education as it relates to poverty, student loan debt, and salary pay scales for degrees and professional trade certifications. While investigating those related themes, this paper will analyze and explore different educational routes that lead to more positive outcomes of self-sustainability and success. The desire to identifying these routes is to help decrease or even eliminate the chances of living in poverty by following a route that is more in demand and offers a higher salary pay scale. This paper will look at two different routes (higher education and/or professional certifications) that have a greater chance of ensuring a lifetime of self-sustainability and success. This paper will compare and contrast student loan debt and costs associated with obtaining a professional certification.