Friday, May 11, 2012

Student loans???

I recently had a gentleman ask my opinion about student loans. He had read my book and was curious about what I thought.

I explained to him that while I'm not totally opposed to students loans, I truly believe there are better alternatives. Many would agree that investing in education is one of the best investments one can make. I agree with this notion but there are ways to avoid debt so early in life, of course this might be a controversial subject. Here we go!

On May 5th of this year, I spent a total of 10 hours on the road going back and forth to Penn State. My eldest son graduated and boy was it a great feeling!  Lots of excitement and cheer! As I sat there watching during the ceremony, I looked at all of the young people seated. I wondered how many of them were starting out in life with accumulated student loan debt and credit card debt. When my daughter graduated from Temple University five years ago, I wondered the same thing. She has student debt that she is now paying...I wonder if she's reading this blog?

So what is my take on student loans? Well, here is what I suggest. Get as many grants and scholarships as possible. Between academic and sports scholarships students can get a free ride, if they focus early on in high school. With the economy being the way it is, it's not so easy for parents to save for college as it was in previous times. Now a student has to enter high school with a determination to get scholarship money to attend college on any level.

When you graduate the only college that matters is where you get your diploma from. With that being said, a student can attend a community college for the first two years or so and then transfer to a University or college of choice. Of course you must take classes that are transferable to your targeted University, there is help for this at the community college level, however, you must exercise due diligence. Community colleges are a fraction of the cost of Universities, I know because I attended one. I feel it served me well and I worked while I attended.

Speaking of work, another alternative is to work full or part time while attending college. This will allow a student to pay as he/she goes and graduate debt free, minus the loss of sleep and a social life.

Student loans are not the end of the world, however, they can be avoided with proper planning. I know of students who graduated with $40k plus in student loan debt and got caught up in credit card debt in order to subsidize their student loans. For some paying back student loans will take a lifetime.

Pursue your dreams of college, just make sure to count the cost and explore all options while making your dream come true. 

I welcome any comments.

Remember. "True empowerment comes through stewardship" 

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