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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    College students must borrow wisely or bear the costs of loan debt

    If you are like the majority of students who attend four-year public universities, you probably took out a loan to pay for this year’s expenses: tuition, room and board, transportation, food and the occasional non-necessity.

    As long as you are aware that these loans aren’t distributed by the little mustachioed man from the Monopoly board game and that they come with interest and decades of indebtedness, you should have no problem repaying them after graduation.

    On the other hand, if you are like a growing number of college students (or, in some cases, future college drop-outs) who don’t borrow wisely, you could soon find yourself mired neck-deep in a financial morass.

    I’ll admit that as a senior with about $40,000 of student loan debt and accruing interest to my name, I may not be the best person to give advice on the subject of frugality. But if I knew four years ago what I know now, I’d definitely be graduating with a much lighter debt burden.
    Overall, is a college education worth thousands of dollars of student loan debt?

    In most cases, yes — as long as the debt is manageable. As of 2011, the average debt per student in the U.S. was more than $23,000 — but don’t lull yourself into a false sense of security if your projected debt burden falls below this mark. $23,000 is a lot of money. You should do your best to borrow as little as possible.

    If your dream school is clearly out of your price range, do your bank account a favor and apply to colleges that are a bit more affordable. After graduating, if you can’t find a job that pays well enough for you to make your $900 monthly loan payments that you deferred for a year, then that degree from NYU won’t get you very far.

    Never sign up for a private student loan unless you have used the maximum amount of federal financial aid available. Interest rates on private student loans are substantially higher than the 6.8 percent interest rate offered by the office of Federal Student Aid.

    Apply, apply and apply for scholarships. Take advantage of as much free money as you can. Contrary to popular belief, not all scholarships require a stellar grade point average and SAT/ACT scores.

    If an education is supposedly worth the financial pain, what are the benefits? You should be delighted to know that college, despite its cost, is still the best investment you can make for your future. College graduates earn 84 percent more than high school graduates over a lifetime.

    At the height of the recession, the number of people with bachelor’s degrees and a job did not decline, while people with a high school diploma or less saw staggering job losses. The post-recession recovery of the job market, although slow in coming, has almost exclusively benefitted those with an education beyond high school, with greater job gains made by those with a bachelor’s degree or better.

    But having a four-year degree doesn’t necessarily prevent you from falling on hard times after entering the job market, and it most certainly doesn’t justify racking up $100,000 in student loan debt as an undergraduate.

    Be aware of how much you are borrowing to pay for your education. If you take on more than you can handle, you will find yourself in a world of hurt after graduation.

    — Nyles Kendall is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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