Students Need To Think Long and Hard About College Loans

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I was going back to school. I want to be a therapist. I completed the necessary steps to apply and waited. Within a few weeks I received this jubilant notification that I had been accepted. I remained totally unenthused as research led me to the glib reality that the majority of scholarships and fellowships are reserved for either undergraduates or already enrolled graduate students. About the time the acceptance letter arrived, so did my FAFSA offer. I nearly fell out of my seat when I saw that they were offering me $10K a semester in student loans. Student loans? Could they be serious? I instantly thought of the thousands of youngsters who are about to graduate with tons of student-loan debt hanging over their heads and no real job prospects. I know there's something called forbearance that allows the repayment of the debt to be delayed; but, I also know that student loans offered by the government are non-forgiveable. I know there are a lot of students who had this four-year "free-ride" and now have this staggering price to pay. I truly believe the finanicial-aid process for students really needs to be examined. An 18-year-old is not truly capable of comprehending the damage a $10K loan every semester, translates into. I'm long past 18 and have earned two degrees. One was fresh out of high school and grants provided the majority of the costs; and the other was a decade later where I was working full time and paid out of pocket for the degree. But this latest offer, of a loan has me concerned about who's looking out for the "little" guy. I calculated the cost of this degree if all I were offered were loans. At $10K a semester; for let's say six semesters; that totals to $60K of debt plus interest. I'm talking about becoming a therapist. They average about $40-$50K a year. Attending school on student loans would be similar to going on vacation with a credit card. That wouldn't be fun or wise. So here I am at a crossroad. I know God has a solution. Afterall, I believe my returning to school is His desire for me; so I trust He will provide. The student-loan letter reminded me that the borrower is slave to the lender. I left the rat-race world to pursue what I enjoy. That's writing. I simplified my life to the degree that debt is not my friend. This economic slump is proof of that. And yet, the President stood and challenged everyone to get some college or trade-school education. That's all fine and well; but, realistically, people who have lost their jobs most likely don't have the confidence to take on more debt, to go to school for something that may or may not pay off. Starting today, like the musician on the corner who serenades passersby for a living; and like the songsters who belt a tune for donations; I'm hanging out my shingle: "Donations Welcome". If what I write speaks to you; and you feel a yen to contribute, my deepest gratitude. But my overall concern remains the same. I've lived long enough to know student loans are not the most prudent means of getting an education. It's far more sensible to work full-time and attend classes part-time. The system needs to be overhauled totally. A child, even a 23 year-old-child (the average age of college grads) should not have to start life with insurmountable debt. It's a hole that they may never dig themselves out of. Most of the young college grads I know, have degrees in ambiguous fields. Most of them are working in jobs totally unrelated to their degree. Most of them are barely making enough money to pay their living expenses. A student loan tacked to this statistic is an insult to the hard-work and dedication they put in to getting a degree. No. I'm not a candidate for student-loan debt. When I finish this degree, it will be without debt. Even if that means forfeiting for a time, my dream of living totally off what I enjoy and returning to work. I end with a plea. If you're about to graduate high school; consider the cheaper route of community college. Live at home for a little longer if possible. Don't make debt you may not be able to repay. I know a lot of recent grads who are very sorry they did.