Monday, April 26, 2010

Student Loan Debt

Several people have been asking me about student loans, so I felt it was appropriate to write about it.

People's opinions of student loans commonly fall into the "acceptable" side of debt. How else are you supposed to get a college education? Well quite honestly there is no other way for you to get a college education without student loans if you refuse to look at the other options...

I know we all know the "other" options but I'll repeat them just for a quick refresher:

*Get a job. Get a 2nd job. Get a 3rd job even. Work through the Summer.
*Take fewer classes, but take them year around. It makes it easier to work a full time job and go to school.
*Ask your employer for a scholarship.
*Ask potential employers for a scholarship.
*Get your general's from a community college. Make sure it's actually cheaper though :)
*Apply for scholarships. Every scholarship that you qualify for.
*Talk to the school's financial aid office to see what scholarships and grants are available for students in your situation.

Even then it may be hard to find the money to pay for school so if you're still looking at the student loan option here are some important statistics to look at:
According to USU Today, "The average college senior graduated this year with more than $19,000 in debt." So if you and spouse both go to school using student loans, you're looking at nearly $38,000 in debt. That won't be easy to pay off when the average household income in America is only $48,000 a year.

According to Matrix News "About 42 percent of students entering four-year colleges or universities graduate..."

That means that you can start school, get loans, and then not even get the degree that you were planning on. I know, I know, you're certain that you won't give up, you won't quit- but sometimes it isn't you that is stopping you from going to college. Surprise pregnancies, health issues, deaths, disabilities, etc. all can happen without your consent.

Also remember that going to school takes time. For most of us just getting a bachelors degree can take four to six years. A lot of things that can change in that time frame. Think back 4 years ago, are you were you thought you would be now? For most of us, I think we can say no. So why would we expect the next four years to go as planned?

One last thought on student loans-
With the recent recession that America has gone though, jobs have been extremely scarce in some areas. My husband and I had some friends that graduated in 2009. Student loans and all. And then, he couldn't find a job in his chosen field. In fact, he couldn't find a better paying job PERIOD. So he ended up having to pay on his student loans, plus all his other bills on the same income he had the whole time he was going through school.

He couldn't pay his way through college, but he could find the money to pay on student loans when it was the same income.

I'm not saying that when you finally graduate you won't be able to find a job... chances are we'll be beyond the recession by the time you graduate, but sometimes just having the degree and the will to get through college aren't going to put you where you want to be.

If you still want to get student loans, by all means do. Personal finances are personal and you should make your own decisions on the matter. Just make sure they are well informed decisions.

I personally wouldn't recommend student loans to anyone, but if you are going to do it be smart. Don't take out more than you need to cover your basics. Work through school- even working a night or weekend shift. Pursue other options as well (see above.)

"The only guarantee is change."

Thanks for reading :)

1 comment:

  1. I went back to school Fall 2009. The lucky thing about losing over 2/3 of our income and cashing out everything to keep afloat, is that I qualify for financial aid. Ah, silver lining! So far, I have been able to use a Pell grant for all of my tuition and expenses and had about $500 per semester left over. You see, instead of buying my textbooks at the school bookstore for like $100+ per book, I bought mine online for like $25 or less per book. In a few classes, I even checked with the teachers and was able to buy the previous edition of the textbook online for like $5 each. They change the covers, but the book is pretty much the same. When choosing a school,consider your degree. Many people spend way too much money on tuition. Take as many classes as you can at a junior/community college. Depending on your degree, you can probably do just fine at a public school in your own state to save money.

    I would love to go to a fancy pants college, and maybe I could even get into one, but I know I can't afford it. I took all my general ed courses at community college and now I transferring to a local, public university. One that I can afford.