Many of us that didn’t go to college wish that we could go back for so many reasons. Maybe you feel like you’re stuck in a dead end job. Maybe you like what you do and would like to advance in your current position – but if you had a degree your employer would pay you more. Or maybe you are looking for a complete career change, one that you will enjoy.
There’s only one problem … the price of college! It’s no secret that the cost of college tuition is on the rise. So we look for scholarships, grants, and government funded programs. If those don’t work out then we have to resort to student loans. But you may not realize how much debt you will have to get into to get that degree.
Even if student loans are what economists consider “good debt,” an increasing number of borrowers are struggling to pay them off, and in the process becoming bogged down in a financial mess.
The borrowing craze dates back to the early 1980s, when tuition for four-year colleges began to rise faster than a family’s income did. For borrowers, the average debt in 2011 was about $23,300, with 10% owing more than $54,000, and 3% owing more than $100,000. 94% of students today who earn a bachelor’s degree and pursue higher education have to borrow money. That figure has more than doubled since 1993 at 45 percent.
There is more than $1 trillion in student loans outstanding in this country. Almost everyone earning their bachelor’s degree is borrowing to help with unpaid expenses. As prices in tuition continue to rise, a college degree is still a good lifetime investment. However, it comes with the heavy financial burden upon completion of schooling.
It seems as though no one is exempt from struggling to pay off student loans. Christina Hagan, a 23 year old Ohio lawmaker was appointed to fill a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives last year. She is not only a state representative but also a college student. She will graduate from Malone University with more than $65,000 in student debt. Though she makes $60,000 a year as a state representative, she plans to begin waiting tables at a local restaurant to help pay down her debt. She pays about $1,000 per month to her loans and the credit cards she had to open to help her through school.
It can be scary to consider taking out a student loan. However, you can take some precautions when researching the possibility of opening a student loan. There are alternatives to loans. You may qualify for government funded programs, or, depending on what kind of degree you are getting, you may qualify for grants or scholarships. If you’re employed, your employer may even be willing to pay for a higher education for you if it benefits your job.
If you are taking the student loan route, be sure you understand the terms and conditions of the loan, before you receive the money from the lenders. There are many different types of student loans. Some are better than others, with better repayment programs and better interest rates. Make sure you know what kind of interest rate you are paying to them and if there will be a fee for paying the loan off early.
Student loans may seem like the easiest solution when it comes to funding your further education. But it is definitely not the easiest solution when it is time to pay them back. Try to use them as a last resort and be sure to do all the research in regard to the terms of the loan, and any alternative solutions.