Student loans: Lessons learned, choosing a major, and overcoming regrets

In 2009, Kasey O. graduated college with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Media Arts & Animation. With the support of her family, friends, school guidance counselors, and high school teachers, she had finally earned a college degree in a field that fulfilled her passion. Kasey was proud, hopeful, and ready to begin her dream career. But unfortunately for Kasey, things weren't exactly what they seemed.

What Kasey didn't know was that she had borrowed nearly $80,000 for her degree. She didn't realize that interest accrued while she was in school either, which came as quite as a surprise. Upon graduation, the interest on Kasey's student loans capitalized, leaving her just under $100,000 in debt. And, even after making over $17,000 in payments over the last three years, Kasey still owes around $95,000.

Kasey's student loan debt remains a hardship to this day, mainly due to the fact that she's never been able to find employment in her field. But, even if she had, it's unlikely that she would be much better off.

“During my final quarter, there was a graduate meeting where they went over the job prospects of the past years' graduates. The average grad in my field was making less than $26,000, nowhere near the $56,000+ mark they put on my degree when I first applied,” says Kasey.

A Surge in Student Loan Debt

Although Kasey's story may seem outrageous, her situation is way more common than many realize. As it currently stands, the average student loan debt is hovering around $27,000. And, even though the costs of higher education are reportedly slowing down, they're still increasing at twice the rate of inflation, making it increasingly difficult for families to keep up. According to the Institute for Colleges Access & Success (TICAS), student loan debt has tripled to $1.1 trillion dollars over the past eight years, with the percentage of 25-year-olds carrying student loan debt rising as well, from 25 percent to 43 percent.

Of course, Kasey knows that her debt load isn't the norm. After all, not everyone is unfortunate enough to owe six figures at the age of 24. Now 28, Kasey blames her (much) higher-than-average student loan debt on the fact that she went to a for-profit school, and that she was young and naïve when she made these life-altering decisions.

“Going to a for-profit school was the biggest mistake of my life, and it'll likely continue to affect me beyond retirement, if I even get to retire,” says Kasey. Since student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, Kasey continues to focus on paying her private student loans first since her federal loans are under Income Based Repayment. Kasey's federal loans will reach forgiveness in 2035. By then, she'll be 50 years old.

Is Six-Figure Student Loan Debt Ever a Good Idea?

Richard C. also borrowed six figures for college, with a starting balance of $107,000 after loan consolidation. For a six-figure price tag, he earned a bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a master's degree from Albany Medical College. Like Kasey, Richard's student loans are also on a multi-decade repayment plan, with the final pay-off date scheduled many years down the road. Also like Kasey, Richard wasn't fully aware how much he was borrowing at the time.

“I realized I spent too much while trying to gather all my separate loans together for my consolidation,” says Richard. “To be perfectly honest, I really didn't have ANY idea that I had amassed six figures in school loans. When I got my MINIMUM monthly payment quote from Nelnet, I couldn't believe what I had done.”

Richard blames his high debt load on a handful of factors that he didn't recognize until it was far too late.

“First off, I would have not gone to Cornell,” says Richard. “A local state school would have sufficed just as well.” He also wishes that he would have made saving a priority during the six years he took off between degrees. “I had six years. If I could have saved 10 grand per year, I wouldn't be in the predicament I'm in now.”

However, Richard's situation isn't hopeless. Since he earned his master's degree as a P.A., or physician's assistant, he now earns a salary of about $115,000 per year. His choice of major, or “saving grace” as he calls it, remains the reason why he doesn't necessarily feel hindered by his enormous debt load. After all, $115,000 is plenty of money to repay his student loans, save, and retire in a reasonable amount of time, according to Richard.

“Making smart decisions has allowed me to save about $115,000 in retirement accounts (403(b) and Roth IRA),” said Richard. “I also have about $30,000 saved in a taxable account as well. I accomplished all this in the past five years by spending wisely and making saving a priority.” And, despite his huge debt load, Richard's family has an after-tax savings rate of around 52 percent.

Lessons Learned

Kasey and Richard's experiences are full of lessons — some obvious, some not so much. First of all, both stories illustrate the importance of choosing a college major that makes financial sense. Due to changes in technology and the workforce, the advice to “follow your passion” may no longer be advantageous to your career or your financial situation.

Of course, if you want to follow your passion, you still can. But, like Kasey, your passion may end up costing far more than it's worth. According to a recent study from Georgetown University, a degree in fine arts brings in an average starting salary of $30,000. Making matters worse is the fact that unemployment for fine arts majors currently stands at around 12.6 percent. How's that for adding insult to injury?

Another study from Georgetown University reports that the highest-paying college majors are currently in engineering and technology, with the top-paying spots filled by petroleum engineers ($120,000), Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration ($105,000), and Mathematics and Computer Science ($98,000). Since this study focused solely on careers that can be attained with a bachelor's degree, physician's assistants weren't mentioned. However, Forbes listed the P.A. degree as the “No. 1 Best Master's Degree For Jobs” last year, with a mid-career median pay of $97,000.

But, what about student loan debt? Kasey and Richard both admit that they borrowed way more than they ever understood or planned for. Fortunately, some basic tips have been established by sources that have a would-be student's best interest at heart. One of them, the Project on Student Debt, hopes to “identify cost-effective solutions that expand educational opportunity, protect family financial security, and advance economic competitiveness.”

According to the Project on Student Debt, students need to “look before they leap” when borrowing money for school. Some other tips:

  • If you have to borrow money for college, the Project on Student Debt recommends to start with federal student loans, instead of private. “Interest rates on federal loans don't change over time and aren't affected by your credit rating. Federal loans also come with some guaranteed borrower protections in case you're unemployed or have other financial problems after college.”
  • Shop around and beware of private student loans in disguise. “Some schools put their own name on private loans, or the loans may have other brand names that make them look safer than they really are. Lenders often offer both federal and private loans, so make sure you know what you're getting before you sign on the line.”
  • The Project on Student Debt also suggests that students read all the fine print in order to understand how much they're borrowing and what they're really signing up for. “Get the full terms of what the preferred lender or lenders have to offer before you make any commitment.”

Kasey and Richard also have relevant advice to offer in light of their real-life student loan debt nightmares. According to Richard, the most important thing a future college student can do is to pick a college major that will lead to a well-paying career. “This is the one thing I did correctly and perhaps my saving grace,” says Richard. “One thing people forget is that if they like things like art, they can fulfill that passion through a hobby.”

And while Kasey wishes that she had followed Richard's advice, she's now left without a whole lot of options. She has many regrets and wishes she had taken more time to research her school, tuition costs, and career outcomes. So, what's Kasey's advice? Educate yourself.

“Take the time to explore possibilities and to educate yourself, especially about student loans, for-profit schools and borrowing wisely. Know the difference between federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans,” says Kasey.

Kasey hopes that her story serves as a cautionary tale for students who are ready to sign on the dotted line. If she had the chance to do it all again, she would've taken some time to decide what she really wanted before committing to a lifetime of debt.

“I would have taken several years off from school to learn skills on my own, work various jobs/volunteer to gain experience and to gauge what it is I truly like doing, save money, take the time to research schools (which for-profit schools to avoid), degree programs, and how student loans work,” says Kasey. Unfortunately for Kasey, it's far too late.

How much student loan debt do you still have? What is your plan for paying it off? What advice do you have for would-be college students who need to borrow money to go to school?

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Erica W.
Erica W.
6 years ago

If Kasey gets a job at a non-profit (maybe doing art therapy or even working in the graphic arts department), she will be eligible for public service loan forgiveness if she consolidates her federal loans under the Direct Loan consolidation program. That means that after paying the Income Based Repayment for 10 years (and submitting some paperwork), whatever federal loans remain will be forgiven. She doesn’t have that option for the private loans, but can perhaps focus more on them while paying less on the federal ones.

Kostas
Kostas
6 years ago
Reply to  Erica W.

Excellent point Erica, if this is a viable option for her than it could help her out in the end. Having student loans hanging over your head can be a horrific stress and burden if after obtaining your degree, you have no luck finding a well-paying job that affords you the opportunity to make those monthly payments.

Beth
Beth
6 years ago

“the most important thing a future college student can do is to pick a college major that will lead to a well-paying career.” I think the message of this post is important: to know what you’re getting in to with student loans. However, I think this particular advice is a little off the mark. Not everyone excels in high paying fields, or would be happy in them if they do. A career choice should be based on talent and aptitude, not just compensation. And once that potential career choice is made, find a way to get your education without taking… Read more »

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

I agree with this. I have a BFA degree. I only make around $35K a year, but thanks to 529 plans, merit scholarships, and need-based aid, my undergraduate degree left me with $15K of student loan debt. This was not an overwhelming amount to pay off, even on a modest salary.

On the other hand, borrowing six figures for the same degree would have been a total disaster!

Chuckie G.
Chuckie G.
6 years ago
Reply to  Ramblin' Ma'am

I know someone who did the latter and can say unequivocally that it is a disaster.

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Also, one’s major doesn’t always relate to one’s career. When you first come out of college, yes, but as time goes on your undergraduate major becomes less important, generally speaking. I work in IT and I have a liberal arts BNA in sociology. I didn’t go straight into IT, however – I spent some time in retail management – but eventually my aptitude for computers led me to a better fit for a career. I worry that too many recent college grads will view their major either as a career death sentence or a guaranteed ticket to Easy Street when… Read more »

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
6 years ago

Add to that– people who seek a career just because there’s a lot of demand for that job at that time, may find that things have changed and now there’s too many people for the available positions. It can be dangerous to just pursue education with one specific career in mind, especially if it isn’t something you actually enjoy.

Beth
Beth
6 years ago

That happened to me, actually. Promises of a plentiful job market didn’t live up to expectations, and more and more people entered the profession — making the job market doubly tough.

Job markets wax and wane.

sarah
sarah
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

It seems straightforward to say that these two people have different salaries because they chose different majors, but that’s ignoring the fact that one person was smart/resourceful/supported enough to get into and graduate from Cornell and the other resorted to a for-profit school, which likely means she couldn’t get in to any other school out there. I think there are a lot more factors than just this one.

Kasey @ Debt Perception
Kasey @ Debt Perception
6 years ago
Reply to  sarah

Actually, Sarah, I was an A average student in high school and probably could have gotten into a lot of other schools if I had pursued a different degree; not many places offer animation degrees. I ended up going to a for-profit art school that my father liked best. They were great at luring everyone in.

FrugalSage
FrugalSage
6 years ago

Finance, particularly saving, retirement needs, credit card issues and life choices need to be taught far better at school. In Australia, psychology and arts are the two main degrees Australian girls obtain and they are almost totally useless in the real world. It’s between 20-40% unemployment rates for people up to 5 years out of university with those courses. At least Australia has HELP debt for citizens. (courses are cheaper, and it only rises with inflation) Universities do not care, they just want more students paying fees irrespective of if they are being educated in useful careers. Early life choices… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  FrugalSage

IMHO, finance also needs to be taught AT HOME. There is a class on student loans in Ontario’s grade 10 career studies curriculum, but the message kids get in school (work, save your money, aim for scholarships, make smart choices) is often very different from the one they get at home (debt is inevitable and okay – you can deal with it when you graduate).

I agree that schools should teach this stuff, but parents need the education too. They’re more involved with — and have far more control over — their children’s educational choices than schools.

Rena
Rena
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Teaching at home only works if the parents have good financial literacy, and, at least in the US, it’s pretty obvious that’s not the case most of the time.

I got into my student loan mess because my parents had no idea how else to pay for college because they’d never gone. They didn’t teach me what it meant to take $70k in loans, I just signed on the line.

Carla
Carla
6 years ago
Reply to  Rena

Adding to this point, even if parents are good financial managers it doesn’t mean they could teach it. My mother was always good with money, finances, spending, saving, credit, etc but she could not teach me beyond “get a job, pay bills on time, etc”.

Teaching is a skill not everyone has.

Lis
Lis
6 years ago
Reply to  Rena

My parents started pushing me towards colleges when I was in the 7th grade. For them, it was important that I get into the best school possible. When it came time for me to start looking at colleges for real, I never even went to look at a state school. All the schools I looked at were private, for-profit schools. I ended up attending a very good private college. I double majored, worked with Residential Life to keep housing costs down, and held a part time job for other expenses. Still, I graduated with $20k that I’m responsible for, and… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  Rena

That’s why I said ALSO. We need to teach parents, not just the kids. It’s like schools teaching healthy eating habits and then the kids go home to McDonald’s every night. Teach the whole family to cook healthy meals together — then maybe you’ll get somewhere. If parents can manage money but aren’t able to teach, then there’s another piece of the puzzle that needs tackling. Seems to me there are books about raising money smart kids for a start? For those of you PF bloggers who say “we need to teach this stuff in schools!” — why not volunteer… Read more »

PawPrint
PawPrint
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

I have to disagree strenuously with this comment. You can exhibit great financial behavior to children and talk about not getting into debt and still have kids who are financial messes. My daughter, who is 30, graduates in the spring with a degree in fisheries and wildlife and $40K worth of debt. She works 6 months of the year as an interpretive park ranger. She’s found what she wants to do. I gently tried to remind her about her student loans, suggested working for a while to save enough to pay for college outright (this is what I did), but… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  PawPrint

If schools were able to solve society’s problems so easily, then those safe sex talks in phys. ed. should prevent all teenage pregnancies, stop drug use, prevent STDs, etc.

Parents and teachers can instruct kids and provide good role models, but there’s no 100% guaranteed solution.

imelda
imelda
6 years ago
Reply to  FrugalSage

That is an interesting point. I know this blog post is anecdotal, but it happens to have anecdotes that coincide with statistics – the woman went into a low-paying field, the man into a high-paying one. We have a double-edged sword of both under-valuing what is thought of as traditional women’s work, and also continuing to encourage girls and women to go into those areas. It’s messed up. And personally, I find it really unfair that all my life, as a student, I was praised for being good at English and writing, and then when I got to college I… Read more »

Missy
Missy
6 years ago

Unless you are going into engineering, you will not be making six figures with a bachelors degree. Parents today expect this to be possible, due to the high tuition. But that is not reality. Psychology is just as useless as many other bachelors degrees. You need to continue to a masters or PhD. I also don’t agree with pursuing a degree just for money. I can’t even count the number of miserable doctors and lawyers that I know. I also know many miserable teachers. Or the number of college students that I advise who want to be business majors “for… Read more »

Arpad
Arpad
6 years ago
Reply to  Missy

If you’re lucky enough to be in the minority of 18 year olds that has a passion, by all means pursue it. Careful, though. Will you still have that passion when you’re 30, 40, 50? For the rest of us that don’t know what we want to do, get an inexpensive education in something that pays well. Then when you figure it out (I was in my mid 30’s before I finally found work I enjoyed), make your move. You’ll have some experience then as well and you’ll find the best way to pay for it without burdening yourself and… Read more »

NicoleAndmaggie
NicoleAndmaggie
6 years ago

It is hard to separate major choice from ability. Many companies hire math majors not bc they need the math but bc math majors have to be smart to finish the degree. If a hum major has a local rep for producing smart grads, it sends the same signal. On top of that, cream will rise even with an English major. I went to an elite slac and my hum friends are doing just fine even if they’re doing “business”. And folks who dropped out but have computer or sales skills are doing fine too. Degrees only do so much.

SAHMama
SAHMama
6 years ago

I went to Northwestern University and majored in biology, graduating in 2001. At the time, tuition plus room, board, and fees were around $40k/year. That was as much as my parents earned combined at their factory jobs. Due to us being a working poor family, I got a lot of financial aid and all of my loans were subsidized. I had work-study, and still I graduated with around $15k in loans. Upon graduating, I got a job at Northwestern doing genetics research in a functional genomics laboratory. My salary was $29k/year. Yes, that’s right. They paid me less per year… Read more »

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
6 years ago
Reply to  SAHMama

OTOH, my sister’s NWU degree translated into an above average first year’s salary (more than 2x the annual price tag) at her choice of a number of jobs. She was making more than I was (even with my shiny PhD) her first year on the job. It propelled her up the economic ladder in a way that she probably wouldn’t have seen at our flagship state school. It’s hard to generalize from one data point. (Plus she would have come out with more debt from our state flagship– she also got a lot of financial aid though NWU wasn’t as… Read more »

SAHMama
SAHMama
6 years ago

My DH graduated from NU in 2002 with a BS in Computer Engineering. He’d been on the dean’s list and had an internship with a Fortune 500 company. Lo and behold, he couldn’t find a job. Not in Chicago. Not in Ohio… so we were newlyweds with me starting grad school and he had to have a job for me to get in state tuition. I told him I didn’t care if he started flipping burgers, but he was going to have to do something (I already had a part-time job, but my claim to Ohio residency was linked to… Read more »

Samantha
Samantha
6 years ago
Reply to  SAHMama

I agree with nicoleandmaggie! I think we’ve talked about this on here before, but I also went to Northwestern and they were the best years of my admittedly short life, I received a ton of need-based aid (they don’t give out merit aid), and now I’m at a top 25 law school (which if you call that a good thing, I credit to NU and if you call it a bad thing I don’t detract from NU!).

FI Pilgrim
FI Pilgrim
6 years ago

As an IT Manager who never went to college, I definitely have the best of both worlds. But if I ever wanted to change career paths I would try to find some alternative education methods to get me there.

Matt at Your Living Body
Matt at Your Living Body
6 years ago

I went to a state school for nursing and I ended up with about 70k in debt – stupidly. It’s going to take me quite some time to pay off. I’m not proud of it. At this point I’m trying to put a nest egg away for retirement to take advantage of how young I am instead of paying down my debt. After taking a look at many options, that was the one that seemed most beneficial to me despite the big load of debt. After I take care of that, I’ll start plugging away on the debt. I think… Read more »

Mike
Mike
6 years ago

So many thoughts on the post because this topic is going to have huge implications to our country’s future. I guess my first thought is that there is a place for business but it scares me that education and healthcare have officially become big business and follow the corporate model. Whatever happened to the goals being to educate and to help people get healthy? At some point those goals got blurred with making as much profit as possible and it worries me. Follow your dreams is difficult advice. When I was growing up I wanted to be: A professional forklift… Read more »

Financial Samurai
Financial Samurai
6 years ago

Holly,

Do you know about any Obamacare like subsidies for college students? I think there is some legislation rolling around about tuition subsidy, or tuition debt forgiveness no?

Thanks,

Sam

Sara "Seester" D
Sara "Seester" D
6 years ago

I am having a real problem with these people ‘not knowing that they owed that much’. Were they not paying attention to the papers that they were signing? Why aren’t they taking personal responsibility for their actions?

I spent the credit on my card and am accepting the full responsibility for the debt responsibility.

You can try to blame it on the millennial mind set of living in the moment and not paying attention to the details, but in the end they are responsible- even if you want to cry ‘predatory lending’.

Mike
Mike
6 years ago

Sara, I’m in a pretty good position because of some of the choices I made and help I received from my family but just for the purpose of perspective, when I was 18… 1. my high school paid no attention to personal finance and I didn’t take a business or a finance course 2. my parents weren’t financially savy at all 3. it was 1998 so the ‘personal finance movement’ internet sites, books, tv shows, etc. wasn’t around and if it was it definitely wasn’t in the forefront of my world. 4. guidance counselors did little more than offer advice… Read more »

KevinM
KevinM
6 years ago
Reply to  Mike

I’m not buying it, Mike. I graduated High School in 1987 and the information was around then. It was in University handouts or at the library, but anyone planning to go to school should not be afraid to do a bit of reading and planning. There was no need to wait for the PF world to arrive.

Tammy
Tammy
6 years ago
Reply to  KevinM

I agree. Students do not need a finance class to know that by the very definition LOANS must be repaid.

Mike
Mike
6 years ago
Reply to  KevinM

Knowing that a loan needs to be repaid isn’t the point I was trying to make, it is all of the knowledge and other context required to be able determine if taking it out is a solid financial decision. I don’t know how you expect an 18 year old kid to have all that figured out when everyone around them goes to college, their parents don’t know how to make solid financial decisions and maybe didn’t go to college, their schools only teach them the right math skills so they don’t purchase one too many shingles at home depot to… Read more »

Judith
Judith
6 years ago
Reply to  KevinM

I’m not buying it either. I AM a “millennial” and I started my college career at the local community college and still had to take loans (parents weren’t financially well-off nor savvy). As part of the loan, they required you to sit-in this class that explained the whole process of “how this loan stuff works.” It was terribly boring, but it explained the obvious – that this money isn’t mine, it has to be paid back, and it will accrue interest during and after college. On top of that, I got statements in from my lender showing how much I… Read more »

Lucille
Lucille
6 years ago

Sara, I had a similar thought when I read that about them “not knowing”. How do you not know how much the loans you’re signing for are? It’s not like they were achieved in small increments (like when you keep taking cash out of the ATM and overlook the cumulative total).
Surely the woman who went to the for profit school knew what the yearly tuition was from the get go?

Rena
Rena
6 years ago
Reply to  Lucille

There’s a big difference between knowing and comprehending. I “knew” I was taking out $15k a year, but I had absolutely no comprehension of what that actually meant. I just had a naive belief that it’d all work out once I had a job, which I’d get with my degree, and wouldn’t be a big deal. Student loan debt wasn’t bad debt, after all.

Kasey @ Debt Perception
Kasey @ Debt Perception
6 years ago
Reply to  Lucille

The for-profit school I attended was on a quarter system and I have one loan from every quarter. Lots of little loans add up. They also had me take out private loans that I thought were federal because “Sallie Mae was their preferred federal lender.” I actually didn’t need to physically sign some of the promissory notes, just needed confirmation over the phone and financial aid would fill out the paperwork for whatever amount kept me in school. Ignorance may have guided me through the path I took but never did I think I wouldn’t have to pay back what… Read more »

Rena
Rena
6 years ago

Alright Sara, so commenters like you show up every single time that student loans are mentioned, and it’s taking all of my willpower not to be a snarky and sarcastic. Your judgement doesn’t help anyone who’s buried under debt, clearly we know better now, but we didn’t then. “Don’t get yourself into that mess in the first place” isn’t a solution for those of us who are already there. So, instead of snark, let me share a little bit about the mentality that went into my student loan mess. Yes, many of these things are dumb, but try to remember… Read more »

Jane
Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  Rena

I think you can argue both that circumstances have changed for young people today in ways that are not their fault AND point out the ways in which students need to take responsibility for their present predicament. These two things are not mutually exclusive. I do think older generations are clueless about the cost of college today and that you can’t just work your way through college. Things have changed. But I also think that students need to realize that their expectations for college life have also shifted. There is definitely something to be said for how swank schools have… Read more »

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Yes, the luxe college campuses are ridiculous!!!! How much more financial aid could they offer if they weren’t busy building dormitories that could double as luxury apartments? Or how much lower could the tution be?

For example, my alma mater, a public university, now has a dorm with student apartments where not only does each student get his or her own room, but they also get a DOUBLE BED. Wth?!?!?

PawPrint
PawPrint
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Why can’t you work your way through college? My son, who graduated about 6 years ago, worked full time, went to school full time, and had joint custody of his disabled child. He managed the dean’s list most semesters. Was he tired? Always. But he made it through without any debt and had three job offers (health IT). Would I want to do that? No. But you can’t tell me that kids can’t work and go to school because I know that’s not true. If you’re motivated enough to want to graduate and want to stay out of debt, you… Read more »

Jane
Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Pawprint – where did your son go to school? You can certainly work while in school, but most universities cost far more per year than you could earn. Heck, most 18 year olds in this economy can barely make enough to pay their rent and living expenses, much less enough to pay tuition, books, etc. The cost of tuition has skyrocketed and made it well nigh impossible for most college students to “work their way” through their education. This is the reality – not some selfish excuse that students make. That your son did it six years ago is not… Read more »

Edward
Edward
6 years ago

Agree with that, Sara! The word “blame” is also in there for both examples as well. “Yes, I owe $70K, but I blame ____.”

Another thing I’m wondering about… If Richard has $145K in investments and $107K in consolidation debt, 9 times out of 10 he’d get a way better return by paying off the debt. Unless the loan in less than 2%, it’s completely crazy to be saving money instead of getting rid of the debt first. Talk about putting the cart before the horse!

Mike Holman
Mike Holman
6 years ago

I’m willing to give Kasey the benefit of the doubt, although I too have a hard time understanding how someone can borrow that much money without knowing about it.

What about all her supporters?

“With the support of her family, friends, school guidance counselors, and high school teachers”

Didn’t any of them mention anything about costs/loans etc?

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
6 years ago
Reply to  Mike Holman

Many folks giving advice or teaching now attended school when it was possible to do so without loans. Plus, telling people what they can or should do is destined to fail with this age group (and telling people what they can or should do with regards to money feels taboo for a lot of folks anyway). When the grad students in the department where I work complain about school costs to faculty, they receive stupendously un-helpful advice. I have even heard a faculty member suggest that a student “tap the family fund” if they are having financial trouble. That exchange… Read more »

Christy
Christy
6 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

In less than one generation the “rules” for college have changed so much that parents do not have the knowledge and experience to guide thier children. For example, in 1970 the taxpayers of my state subsidized 70% of a college education – the student picked up 30% of the cost. By 2010 those numbers reversed. Today the taxpayer subsidizes 30% of a college education and the student picks up 70% of the cost. Paying for college has high stakes consequences for students. It is ironic that as a society we ask teenagers just graduating from high school to make decisions… Read more »

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

I agree – there is a generation gap wrt how to use the chance to go to college and how to pay for it. Several months ago I saw this gap firsthand when members of Gen X&Y were talking about how a Gen Y chemistry major (chemistry!!!! a “real” major, not some floofy thing like English or philosophy!) was struggling to pay his loans on his low salary (can’t remember if he had a McJob or was a lowly lab assistant). The GenX/Y folks were pointing out that a college degree was now overvalued given the tution costs and the… Read more »

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
6 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Sounds like Mitt Romney’s response when asked how young people can buy a home: Borrow the down payment money from your parents!

Mrs PoP
Mrs PoP
6 years ago
Reply to  Mike Holman

My student loan experience is a bit unusual… http://www.plantingourpennies.com/arbitrage-miscalculation-and-a-scarlet-letter-my-student-loan-story/ I was lucky that the things that I’ve always been strong in STEM, so I ended up with a boatload of academic scholarships and graduated undergrad with minimal debt and a full ride with living stipend to a PhD program in my field. Nonetheless, I took out another $10K in loans the year I was enrolled in grad school simply because “I could” and it didn’t seem like a big deal. I generally had a good head on my shoulders even back then, but I can sympathize with people who barely… Read more »

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Mrs PoP

That’s a good point about mortgage paperwork vs. student loan paperwork!! A lawyer went through and explained each piece of paper I was signing for my mortgage. For my student loan? Just the college financial aid officer, and all she said was “Sign here, this is the promissory note.” She may have mentioned the interest rate, but she definitely didn’t tell me how much I’d have to pay per month after graduation!!! And I don’t remember that figure being in the financial aid offer, either!! Granted, this was in the late 80’s/early 90’s, so maybe students get more info now….… Read more »

Kasey @ Debt Perception
Kasey @ Debt Perception
6 years ago
Reply to  Mike Holman

Thanks Mike. My school was on a quarter system and I have a loan for every quarter. The financial aid department never told me how much I had accumulated, just the amount that I needed to keep attending. Most of the time I didn’t even need to physically sign the promissory notes, just needed to give verbal confirmation and financial aid filled out the rest and e-signed it. I was never warned nor taught about student loans, aside from the fact it would get me through college. My dad was actually sitting with me in the financial aid office when… Read more »

imelda
imelda
6 years ago

Seriously, give me a break. The phrase “predatory lending” exists because it is a real phenomenon. People are encouraged to take on loans that they cannot handle, because that financial information is not common knowledge. It is not something we are taught, not something that is easy to understand. You assume that these people were aware they had other choices. You expect that we can and should all be the kind of people who distrust what others are telling us – including family members, trusted advisers, etc. We are talking about adolescents, here – teenagers. They have not yet learned,… Read more »

Laura
Laura
6 years ago
Reply to  imelda

#80/Imelda: Like X 1000.

KevinM
KevinM
6 years ago
Reply to  imelda

Sure. Salesmen will say whatever it takes to get a sale. But these “kids” are able to buy a car or house, vote, join the army, have children, and make all sorts of adult decisions. As a society we’ve said that by 18 they need to be responsible for their decisions. You are responsible for your choices, and so are these “kids”. When do we draw the line if not 18? 20? 25? 40? After all, isn’t keeping up with the joneses and following the crowd a common thread on the PF blogs? Do I feel bad that people end… Read more »

imelda
imelda
6 years ago
Reply to  KevinM

Fair enough. If you want the truth, I don’t really draw a line. I don’t think it’s fair to take advantage of anyone’s ignorance to make a sale. I’ll always sympathize with the person who is duped. And if they’re being duped in large numbers, I’m going to start wondering if something deeper is going on.

The fact that they’re kids – not children, but not matured adults, in my opinion – makes me think there should be even stronger protections in place.

Karen
Karen
6 years ago

Not a day goes by where I don’t thank my parents for footing my college bill. Seriously. Graduating without debt has been my one saving grace. I made sacrifices. I purposely went to the state school that offered me the most scholarship money, although I fell in love with a private one. I stayed in the dorm my full time, even though I hated it, because my room was free. I worked part time, and I graduated a year early, even though I would have loved to take that final year to take courses I was genuinely interested in, instead… Read more »

Kelsey
Kelsey
6 years ago
Reply to  Karen

Karen, I’m in the same boat as you. Same age, same major, same tough decisions to graduate early and save money. I also have a well-paying job with good benefits. It’s really tough because it does seem like those of us who are able to make the difficult decisions and see the financial side have an easier time succeeding regardless of our major. It seems like certain personality types or backgrounds are more prone to taking on large amounts of debt and living life a little easier in college. I wish parents and high schools did a better job of… Read more »

PawPrint
PawPrint
6 years ago
Reply to  Kelsey

As a parent, I wish more kids would listen when their parents tell them these things. 🙂

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  PawPrint

As a former teacher, I wish students would listen to their teachers more 😉

imelda
imelda
6 years ago
Reply to  Kelsey

“It seems like certain personality types or backgrounds are more prone to taking on large amounts of debt and living life a little easier in college.”

I agree with your comment, but take issue with that sentence as too restrictive. Some of us, like myself, are frugal by nature, have worked since age 13, and certainly weren’t looking to “live life a little easier in college.” We were just poor.

Ris
Ris
6 years ago

My advice would be DO NOT go to a for-profit school. They’re not the same as nonprofit institutions of higher education and some of them have downright predatory recruitment strategies and essentially made up degree programs (for jobs you DON’T need a degree for). If you’re struggling to get accepted into a 4-year institution, start at the local community college and take night classes for pennies. DO NOT choose the for-profit/earn your master’s degree from home in court recording management or whatever route.

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Ris

And those for profit universities don’t advertise that they’re for profit… Many of the ads I see make them look like a traditional non-profit university.

Rose
Rose
6 years ago

There’s a lot of truth in this post, but also kind of a scary message that you can still follow your passions but you’re shooting yourself in the foot financially…which kind of ignores the examples, which is that ANYONE can shoot themselves in the foot financially. I’m an opera singer, and this is my most lucrative year yet, and I’m making about 31k before taxes (and since I am 100% self employed, I pay a shocking 30% tax rate on that income). However, my lifestyle is manageable, because I have NO debt (cars, credit, student loans, nothing). Did I follow… Read more »

Sam
Sam
6 years ago

I went to the flag ship state university, my parents paid for my college tuition, room and board, etc. Of course, tuition, room and board were reasonably priced at that state school, which is now much more expensive to to loss of funding by the state. I graduated with a B.A. in Psychology (what someone above described as useless). I actually worked in the mental health field for a few years with my useless degree and even though I was working fora non-profit I was able to support myself and didn’t live at home after the first year. While I… Read more »

tas
tas
6 years ago

I disagree that we shld ask students to pick a major based on its expected income at the end of it. How many stories do we hear of people who hate their jobs, aren’t good at their jobs, etc. and then spend tons of money trying to compensate or switch careers in midstream, leading to less time to build wealth. That doesn’t mean I advocate for a ‘follow your dream without thinking’ approach, though. Instead, we need to 1) encourage students to think about how their passions intersect with career options, 2) encourage them to double major so that they… Read more »

ncb
ncb
6 years ago
Reply to  tas

I agree wholeheartedly with this comment! And to illustrate: To many of the posters here, I have done the exact wrong thing with my education. I chose to go to an expensive, private, Ivy League institution for my BA and double-majored in English and psychology. I left that school with about $20k in loans, thanks to the generosity of my parents and need-based aid. I spent several years in the workforce doing jobs I hated and amassing a free MA in a field I didn’t like working in. I also managed to pay my BA loans down to under $5k.… Read more »

John S @ Frugal Rules
John S @ Frugal Rules
6 years ago

Seeing numbers like this again has me more than a little concerned about what it’s going to be like when we send our kids off to college starting in about 12 years. I think so much of it goes back to making an informed and well educated decision. I think this applies to students and parents. We have such a mentality of pushing kids into college today when it might not even be the best thing for them. Instead, look at your options, what you like and what you can make a living in. For most that will mean college,… Read more »

Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life
Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life
6 years ago

I think there’s a huge lack of understanding around the college world, the value of specific degrees, and the burden of student loans. When you’re 18 it’s difficult to even conceptualize $100k. For me, my focus was to get into the best program at the best school I could get into. period. And when I did, I just HAD to go there. I don’t think students realize, for the undergrad especially, it makes sense to stay in state and go to your school. Maybe even do the first two years at community college before transferring. Doesn’t sound glamorous, but it… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago

I’d like to throw my support behind Beth, Missy, Rose, and other people who are arguing for doing something you like, or even follow a “passion” (an abused word), even if the income is small(er). Yes, you can have a life as an artist, animator, actor, whatever– just don’t be a damn fool who thinks they are entitled to live like a corporate lawyer or an investment banker and eat at trendy restaurants like you’re on TV. Sure, you can live happily with $30K/year, even on less, especially if you love your job, but this requires things like: – having… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
6 years ago

This is obviously an issue that’s near and dear to me. I understand that it’s easy to judge people who made “stupid” decisions. However, the fact of the matter is millions of people are making those decisions and they affect all of us. I think examining ways to improve the situation and prevent it going forward is more productive than judging people who got into that situation. Personally, I think at least part of the problem is how available student loans are. It’s similar to the housing bubble in that way at least. If you’ve got your dream school selling… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

There is definitely a student loan bubble, and not only does it put a lifetime yoke on unwitting students, it also facilitates and encourages rising tuition costs.

Moreover, I fear that the good intentions of “everyone should have a college degree” will yield the unintended consequences of burdening a tremendous mass of people with useless degrees after delaying their entry into the workforce.

imelda
imelda
6 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

“I think examining ways to improve the situation and prevent it going forward is more productive than judging people who got into that situation.”

Beautifully said.

Kasey @ Debt Perception
Kasey @ Debt Perception
6 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

It really does effect everyone. Schools continue to raise tuition prices due to a lack of consumer protections on student loans. Because of that, and predatory lending, lenders can lend $100k risk-free. Borrowers usually wind up paying their loans at least twice over (sometimes 3 or 4 times), so who is profiting? Federal loans are funded by taxpayers. Federal loans feed for-profit schools. All that advertising you see for University of Phoenix, The Art Institutes, etc, that’s your tax dollars hard at work.

getagrip
getagrip
6 years ago

I think each college, as part of the aid package, needs to project the loan portion not as a number, but as a projection for the years and the cost to payback. $100K may be an amophous number to a 18 year old. A monthly payment of $500 dollars for the next twenty years is less so.

Lisa
Lisa
6 years ago
Reply to  getagrip

Receiving an estimate of the full cost of the loan as well as an estimated monthly payment actually happens at the time that each loan is taken out (it is required by regulation for at least the last few years). However, many students do not read and/or comprehend what they are told…I work in a financial aid department at a private university, and I spend a lot of time trying to convince students to minimize their debt load. I provide notices to students on a regular basis in addition to the required notices from the lender, and make myself available… Read more »

ncb
ncb
6 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

I’ve seen a few comments that say they are blaming other people for their debt…Maybe I missed that part of the article? What I read was that both of them “blame” factors that they didn’t understand at the time. Isn’t that always the case with financial missteps? Does anyone go into credit card/mortgage/car debt because they understand all the consequences? I guess I don’t understand why people get so pointy-fingery (to use a technical term) about student loans. They were young and naive and made some bad decisions. They acknowledge that. They would do things differently if they could go… Read more »

imelda
imelda
6 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

“Quite frankly, most students just don’t want to think about it, and it is impossible to force attention or comprehension.” Very good point. To be fair, why should they? Their lives are in flux, going to college is probably the biggest change any of them have ever experienced, and they have plenty to be thinking about. Moreover, none of them actually know what it means to owe “$500 a month.” They’re probably thinking – ‘so what? At my summer job I earned $1,000 a month, and I’ll earn way more than as an adult!’ $500/month probably seems a fair trade-off… Read more »

Jane
Jane
6 years ago

Here’s a recent Wall Street Journal article that challenges the increasingly prevalent advice of this post and others that students should specialize in a burgeoning or hot career field. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324139404579016662718868576 Basically the article urges parents and students not to necessarily jump on the bandwagon of, say, petroleum engineering just because there are jobs in that field right now. If you do this, you will be in deep doo-doo when or if that field collapses. Employment is cyclical, so you need to get a well-rounded education that teaches you how to think or write, etc. Diversification is key. Or if you… Read more »

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane

I remember as a college senior reading that employers loved liberal arts grads because of our ability to think and we were well-rounded. At the time I scoffed because I was NOT seeing in the job listings at college. Everyone who came on canmpus recruiting wanted engineering or accounting majors. However, now that I’ve been in the “real world” for two decades(!!) I understand what that article was talking about. As I mentioned before, my major has nothing to do with my job, BUT skills I learned in college – writing, communicating, thinking critically, being able to understand different disciplines… Read more »

HMA
HMA
6 years ago

Me: My undergrad degree was at a state school in engineering. I’m not sure about tuition, but I got enough scholarships/grants to graduate debt free. I immediately went to law school and accumulated about $60k in debt. My first year starting salary was $155k, so the debt was paid of relatively quickly. Wife: Her undergrad degree was at the same state school in zoology/pre-med, and she graduated with debt of $18k. She worked for a couple of years in a lab making about $40k and didn’t make a large dent in the student loan debt. Later she went to nursing… Read more »

Jess
Jess
6 years ago

My current debt load is about $28K – down from a whole lot more when I graduated in 2008! I’m currently paying at least the minimum due twice monthly (on paydays). The loans are my responsibility – my husband’s degrees were both paid for by his parents – and come out of my paycheck via direct deposit. Every now and then we’ll dump a lump sum into the higher-interest-rate loan (but really, they’re 2.5% and 2.75%, well under our mortgage rate) so I think I’m on track to repay within the next few years. When I got my first payment… Read more »

Michelle at Making Sense of Cents
Michelle at Making Sense of Cents
6 years ago

My student loans are gone, and I am so happy. I’m trying to get my sister to go through college without student loans as well, and she is doing really well with paying tuition as it comes. She currently has $0 in student debt!

Brian@ Debt Discipline
[email protected] Debt Discipline
6 years ago

Perspective employers are not so concerned on where your degree if from, but more concerned that you have a degree. So look for state schools that offer the same major you are interested in. Understand the possibly salaries your degree will command after graduation. You don’t want to make a $75k investment for a $35K return.

Tara @ Streets Ahead Living
Tara @ Streets Ahead Living
6 years ago

For profit schools are diploma mills and the federal government needs to stop offering financial aid to students who attend them. Those profits will surely die if that actually happened!

Also, as far as the PA job, that is a very lucrative field, and having an Ivy League university on the resume ain’t bad. There are some instances where taking on loan debt for school makes sense, and a big name school for a lucrative field is one where it does make sense (like taking out loans for Columbia Law). the payoff will come in the end.

IL JimP
IL JimP
6 years ago

I’m tired of the for-profit school bashing, not all of them are bad and in fact most of them deliver on the promise of a good education for good value.

Secondly, the major problem with education costs these days is that we stopped funding it with our taxes and decided to push those costs off on students. Costs are going up mainly for this reason and if we actually value higher education as a country we would be wise to start investing in it again.

Carla
Carla
6 years ago

Seeing numbers like this discourages me from going back to school as a non-traditional student. Adding student debt on top of a growing medical debt pile seems pretty daunting. I’m doing as much as I can to start and finish with as little debt as possible but most scholarships are for the young.

The good news is, I have a slightly better idea of what I would like to do long-term than I did when I was 17.

Laura
Laura
6 years ago

We are fortunate to have a loophole – if DS is accepted at the school my DH works at, they will waive the tuition so no student loan debt. But I have told DS and DH until I’m blue in the face that if that comes crashing down, DS is better off doing anything (well, anything legal and moral) except using student loans to finance college. DS understands my point – sort of. For those who think a teenager is financially savvy, understands what tens of thousands of dollars of debt means, understands how schools and society misguide and manipulate… Read more »

PawPrint
PawPrint
6 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Totally understand!

imelda
imelda
6 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Jeez, finally a voice of reason in these comments. THANK YOU.

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Yes, yes, and yes 🙂

Kayla
Kayla
6 years ago

Sounds like a similar situation to mine. However, the main thing I disagree with towards the bottom of this is to still ALWAYS shop around for private loans. Government loans aren’t what they used to be, they’re horrendous — mine hover between 5 – 8% between the very few subsidized ones, but mostly being unsubsidized and Parent Plus loans that are closer to that 8% mark. That is RIDICULOUS when a ‘good’ CREDIT CARD rate can be at 10%. About 3/4 of my repayment each month goes toward government interest, around $450, and have been doing so in the three… Read more »

Jane
Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  Kayla

Historically, is a 5-8% interest rate really that ridiculous? I think our expectations for loan interest rates are really out of whack, mainly because of mortgage rates. In context, those rates are ridiculously low and historically unprecedented. I would hardly describe anything under 10% as ridiculously high. It doesn’t even get close to being usurious. The problem with student loans right now is not the interest rate but the sheer amount that students are allowed to borrow at such a young age. Before the advent of private student loans, students were rightfully limited in the amount they could take. In… Read more »

Kayla
Kayla
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane

I would surely not say that’s a ridiculous rate for many things. But when you’re loaning to 18 year olds and those loan amounts add up to $50k+, yes, I think it’s ridiculous. I should not be paying $200 off my principle $75k in debt each month only because the rest goes to interest. It would be an absolutely different story if I got myself into that situation though living beyond my means in CC debt. That should not be the case for education, education being something that should stimulate the economy, not hinder it. We’re one of the only… Read more »

Cindy Brick
Cindy Brick
6 years ago

I read comments for a while, then got frustrated and quit. What about the beginning point of this article — WHY DIDN’T THEY KNOW HOW MUCH THEY’D BORROWED?? Are they stupid? (Obviously not.) Naive? You bet. But we are still responsible for our actions, even if we should have known better. This sounds far too much like “I want to do this, so I’m going to let everyone else worry about specifics.” That’s not taking responsibility for your actions. I’d be more impressed if they were more open about their mistakes and bad choices, and working to correct them.

imelda
imelda
6 years ago
Reply to  Cindy Brick

And, what? They’re “responsible”, so screw them? Let them suffer? Let this system continue? I don’t think you understand what makes a well-functioning society.

Dan
Dan
6 years ago
Reply to  imelda

So what now, give hand outs? Show people there are no responsibilities to their actions? Burden people who have not done this? Some simple questions, do you feel you should pay less for health insurance than a smoker? Should you pay less for a home loan if you have a better credit score? Should you get into a better school because you have better grades?

Kasey @ Debt Perception
Kasey @ Debt Perception
6 years ago
Reply to  Dan

Should student loans have consumer protections restored? Should student loans be subject to the same credit checks needed to get that home loan? Should students be turned down to borrow tens of thousands of dollars when they have zero credit history and no income? I think imelda was thinking more of prevention rather than continuing the skewed system.

Kasey @ Debt Perception
Kasey @ Debt Perception
6 years ago
Reply to  Cindy Brick

Where in the article does it say they aren’t taking responsibility for their actions? Isn’t paying student loan debt working towards correcting the mistake of taking them out in the first place? Or do we need a time machine to fix that? How do you get more open than discussing your mistakes in an article for all to see? Then give open and honest advice to hopefully teach others to learn from their mistakes? I don’t think this was written to impress you.

Micro
Micro
6 years ago

I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with “following your dream”. You just need to be realistic about it. If your dream job is in an occupation that will only pay you 20k a year, then don’t go to a top tier school and accumulate several times your salary in debt. Get your gen eds done at a community college and then transfer to a small in state school to finish the degree out. This way you can pursue your passion and not break the bank.

imelda
imelda
6 years ago
Reply to  Micro

Your advice sounds good, but it doesn’t totally add up. Most kids don’t know what their dream is – they expect to figure that out in college, when they can learn a little bit more about the world and all the options available to them. (theoretically) So, if you don’t know your dream but you know you’re good at English…why wouldn’t you go study English at the best school you can get into? If you’re looking to be successful in life, and you can get into an Ivy League school, or a second-tier school, doesn’t it make sense to move… Read more »

Kali @ Common Sense Millennial
Kali @ Common Sense Millennial
6 years ago

I am so grateful I was able to graduated without any student loans. I chose a smaller school close to home, where the scholarships I had won would cover just about all of the tuition. I worked part-time to help pay for the rest and always took more than a full course load to minimize the time I would be in school (and paying for it). And I chose not to go to grad school after earning my B.A. because I knew I wouldn’t earn enough to pay back the loans I’d have to take out to get my Masters’… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
6 years ago

I still have around $25,000 in student loan debt, a dramatic difference from the $32,000 or so, I had when I first finished college. Though, to be honest I had help getting this far. My plan to pay off my student loans is much like the debt snowball. My federal loans are in an economic hardship deferment at the moment, so I’m steadily trying to pay off my private loans that don’t defer (although surprisingly enough, they’re the ones with the lower increase rate). If I had any advice for would-be college students, it’d be the same as this post,… Read more »

Tyler @ Debt Reckoning
Tyler @ Debt Reckoning
6 years ago

One of my main goals when I first had kids was to begin a college savings fund for them. Since I graduated under the heavy burden of debt I did not want to pass that legacy on to my children. I like to think of their college fund as the gift of education, no strings attached, with the opportunity to learn a skill that becomes a career and feeds them for a lifetime.

Amanda
Amanda
6 years ago

I have about 72k in student loans. The minimum monthly payment I have combined is 525 a month. All of my student loans are consolidated and with one borrower which for me is great because I am not paying more than one but with my loans the interest per year is almost 4,500. I always to people and I work with some high schoolers is to go to a community college where a semester is 4500 and get your basics out of the way if you truly don’t know what career field you want to go into. Had I taken… Read more »

Dear Debt
Dear Debt
6 years ago

I still have 45k left to go, from an 81k balance. I knew interest was accruing, but when you are 17 you don’t really understand what is going on. My mistake was going to an expensive, private college for grad school…in the arts! But it afforded me a lot of things and I am determined to pay it off.

PawPrint
PawPrint
6 years ago

@Jane #76–can’t reply to your question so thought I’d do it here. He went to a community college, then a state school. He also challenged four classes, which meant he didn’t have to pay for 12 credits worth of classes. They were humanities classes that he was required to take (or challenge), and he just studied during the school breaks and then took the exams. I believe it cost $30 to take the exam, and you just have to pass with a 70%. He was extremely focused on getting through school and getting a higher paying job, which, luckily, is… Read more »

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  PawPrint

I think your last sentence is the key – you have to find ways to get through college cheaply. Also, not everyone will know about or have access to tricks and programs your son and cousin had. For example, the high school program where you graduate with an associates degree – I’ve never heard of such a thing until I read your comment. If I’d had that option I would have done it. I also think that can help some people realize that they might not be cut out for college and save them the pain and debt of starting… Read more »

John P. Evans
John P. Evans
6 years ago

My wife and I have a combined $135,000 in student loan debt. We are one of the 30% in our age range to be homeowners. Our monthly student loans are around $1,100/ mo. After I got married I realized how much student loans were affecting both my wife and I. I started reading personal finance books and started to formalize a budget. I came to the conclusion after a year of budgeting that we were not making enough to afford making extra payments to our debt and save, so I had to make more income. So I took on another… Read more »

Rose
Rose
6 years ago

I run a large unit in a public college. About 175 people work for me. Over 2000 people work at this college, and it is part of a system with over ten times that many employees. We do not – and will never – hire anyone with credentials from a for-profit institution. We are not alone. I have worked in both public and private colleges in two countries. Not one of them would ever consider recognizing a credential from a for-profit. They consider these credentials worthless. Whether you like it or not, or agree with the practice or not, that’s… Read more »

Shane
Shane
6 years ago

When I think of kids taking out student loans, I tend to think of someone who was in a rush to get it done (not always, but i feel that it’s the case more often than none looking at my friends and reading these blogs). I’m a generation xy-er and although I got some scholarships to state schools, I didn’t get full scholarships. So I said no to loans, no to those schools, sucked up my pride, and went to a community college for my 2 year AS degree for FOUR years. Why did it take so long? Because I… Read more »

MainlineMom
MainlineMom
6 years ago

I know it’s pointless to go finger-wagging at people who have huge student loan debt now, but I refuse to buy into the argument that they HAD to take out all those loans to go to college. My kids will never be allowed to finance their education, end of story. They will be encouraged to do research into career fields and pursue hirable majors. I had the choice of going to an Ivy League school with some scholarships and a ton of help from my struggling parents, or going to a state school on a full ride. I chose the… Read more »

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