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Student Loans: To Borrow or Not to Borrow

August 28, 2009 By: Category: Aid for College, Loan tips, Loans, Student loans, The financial insider

Due to the rising cost of college, over 70% of college students now consider taking out student loans. While these numbers are a sad reflection of the cost of college, the fact is that student loans are very good debt to have. The real question is HOW MUCH student debt one should have and how much is too much. Because you earn $20,000 per year and you want to buy a house doesn’t mean you’re a fool. What makes you a fool is if you want to buy a million dollar house. But, if you are looking at an $80,000 house, you’re being reasonable.  Same thing with student loans. Whether any school is worth $55,000 per year can be debated — although in my mind some are — but if you have to take the entire $55,000 out in student loans and there is another university that would only cost you $10,000 in student loans per year, well, that’s where I think our sound reasoning skills must come into play.

In other words, we have to assess what we can afford. Taking student loans is a lesson that we all can benefit from. It’s the idea of paying for something that is extremely valuable and because we’re paying for it ourselves, we will better learn that value. When my wife graduated from college, she had taken on so much student loan debt that she had to take the first job offered to her. She felt extreme pressure and the idea of working to pay off an exorbitant amount of debt also had a role in distancing her from her Ivy League alma mater. It was the idea of the machine, cranking out students and ringing up student debt that ultimately has lead her to reassess the college experience. Her story is not unusual, there are thousands of overwhelmed students under pressure to pay off a mountain of debt. Often, in retrospect, I hear that they wish they would have considered other college options before they jumped into this furious cycle of debt.

All in all, student loan debt, like many things that one will encounter as potential choices in college, is very good . . . in moderation.  Be careful with yourself and your money. Your education is sacred and can never be taken from you, but it sure can be resented if you don’t feel you got your debt’s worth.


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