Student Debt Legacy
No topic has as much confusion attached to it than the issue of going to, and paying for, post-secondary education. I scratch my head because it seems like such a straightforward thing. You want to go to college or university, you save the money, pay your way and go. Failing that, you get a job and pay as you go. Failing that, you get scholarships. Failing that you get student loans.
What I see happening as young adults head off to the halls of higher learning is a default to the “student loan” option right off the bat. Student loans, it seems, are the only way to get through school. You can live on them. You can drink beer on them. You can parTAY on them. And it doesn’t matter how much you borrow, because you’re getting an education and that’s all that matters.
So how come I see so many people with an “education” and the debt to go with it earning $10 an hour in call centres, retail stores, and wherever else these educated debtors end up. And how could you ever imagine that if you have $20k, $30k or $40k in debt, that you’ll ever get out of the hole earning $10 an hour?
Ya know what? This is, once again, a case of NO PLANNING. We’ve come to believe higher education is our right, and we can have it, damn the cost. We don’t even have to know what we want to be when we grow up. We can just graduate from high school and then head off to get an undergrad degree. We’ll figure it out as we go. The degree is the thing. That’ll mean a good paying job, and we’ll pay off the loan then. Maybe.
If you want to be one of the dopes who graduates from university or college with a heap of debt and no clear direction, hey, who am I to try and stop you. It’s your right to be as big a dope as you want.
If you’ve decided that option sucks and you’re committed to doing it differently, then I have a series of articles for you to read.
So You Want to Go to College/University is first up, followed by How Much Debt CAN You Afford? Let’s face it. For some degrees – anything with the title Dr. in it, for example — you will graduate from school with the equivalent of a mortgage in student loan debt. That’s the reality. But there are plenty of people taking on more student loan debt than they will ever be able to afford to repay because they think it’s okay. Well, it’s not. The debt you leave school with affects your ability to have a life.
What’s the alternative to debt? comes next. Yes, there are options. There are people who graduate from school without a ton of debt by working part time (hey, let’s hear from some of you guys), taking a year off to work, or living like the poor students they are while at school and until their debt has been repaid.
Managing Your Money for School includes two downloadable worksheets that you’ll find useful for dealing with your lump-sum money (loans, scholarships, savings from summer work) and expenses, as well as dealing with your monthly living expenses and how to keep them within reason. Download the suckers and USE THEM! If it looks like too much work, you’re probably wasting your money going to university or college since my dumb worksheets aren’t a patch on what some professors and teachers are going to ask you to do.
But I’m in Debt. What now? offers suggestions for what to do if you’ve graduated from school with debt.
I found an excellent article, Freshmen Survival Advice for Life that EVERY STUDENT going off to college or university should read. I could not have said it any better than Ruth Ann Raycroft, so take her advice.
I want to get this out to as many people as I can. Send an email to all your friends and family who have kids in university or heading off within the next yea so they have some tools available.