According to the Department of Education, the expected average level of student loan debt for 2012 will be $29,000. Unfortunately some students find themselves stuck in a pile of debt even larger than that. Last November, Gawker profiled a recent grad who had a staggering $200,000 in student loans. The first of her family to go to college, she didn’t have a lot of experience to go on when choosing where to study, who to borrow from, how much to borrow, and what other sources of money she could have used to help cover her costs.
Now Gawker is offering an update on her plight: after $10,000 in donations, some hate mail, and an appearance on NBC Nightly News, she’s still $166,000 in debt. The lesson here? Education is an investment, and it’s a worthwhile one, but borrow within your means. Choose a school you can afford. Pick a major with career opportunities.
All of this may sound basic, but you’d be surprised how many students get caught up in the idea of college and forget the repercussions of its cost. So stay smart and get wise by crunching the numbers first, then compare your student loans and make a budget. You don’t want to be the next person with a debt-burden so big you end up on the news. We promise that kind of spotlight isn’t worth it.
For more tips on how to keep your debt manageable:
- 5 tips on how to pay for school during a recession
- Avoid America’s most expensive colleges
- Use social media to find deals and discounts
Published every three years, the College Board’s Education Pays report (last published in 2010) is a good reminder of what impact a higher education has on the life of a student. It contains all the same statistics you’ve heard about future earnings and job stability, which is a welcome reassurance that the price of college is still worth it, but the report goes beyond that and addresses the social and health impacts of getting an education. That’s right. Going to college impacts your health and the health of any children you may have. Read the full report or check out the highlights:
- From 1998 to 2008, the percentage of four-year college graduates who smoked declined from 14% to 9%, while the rate for high school graduates declined from 29% to 27%. That means college grads are three times less likely to smoke.
- The report says, “At every age, individuals with higher levels of education are more likely than those with lower levels of education to engage in leisure-time exercise.” The numbers are more compelling: 63% of four-year college graduates said they exercised vigorously at least once a week. Among high school graduates in this age range, it was only 37%.
- College grads are less likely to be overweight as they age. Among 35- to 44-year-olds, 23% of four-year college graduates and 37% of high school graduates were obese in 2008.
- Mothers with only a high school education are 31% more likely than mothers with a bachelor’s degree or higher to give birth to babies weighing less than 5.5 pounds (a low birth weight, which could have medical implications).
The point here? Going to college isn’t just about your ambition, your salary, or your job. Education affects the way you live. So stay healthy and get wise by going to school.
According to The Daily Beast, Republican House majority leader Eric Cantor proposed spending cuts on Monday as a part of the budget talks to raise the debt ceiling, and one of them targeted federal student loans. Included in the proposals was the requirement that all students who take out federal loans start paying interest immediately as opposed to deferring payments until after graduation. He said this would save the government $40 billion over 10 years.
According to the same article, sources said President Obama responded to these proposals, which included other cuts to Medicare and Medicaid but still resisted an increase in taxes, by saying, “I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to take money from old people and screw students.”
Not surprisingly, the talks have made little progress. But what do you think? More taxes or more spending cuts?