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Are College Costs Really Something to Worry About?

College educations are expensive. This is already common sense knowledge among American parents and their children.

This is why as early as birth, parents start saving up for their children’s college costs. Some children also begin saving up by getting part-time jobs.

To circumvent high college costs, a common option is to go to a small community college first before embarking on the larger aspiration of going to a four-year college or university. Some also suggest curbing the high cost of education by being a working student. That is, working to earn money while studying in school.

If none of these options have been pursued, by the time kids go to college, their usual recourse is to apply for student loans, and consequently, to acquire student debts. Without student loans, many cannot earn a four-year college degree.

However, most Americans are risk-averse to student loans and to acquiring debts.

According to a nationwide study done by Northeastern University, which surveyed around 1,000 students aged 16-19 years old, this age group acknowledges the importance of a college degree. However, they are concerned about college costs, which entail borrowing money— something they want to avoid or at least minimize.

However, as the middle-class has been shrinking and as wages have remained stagnant while college costs have skyrocketed, most families cannot afford to save enough and send their child to college. Only half of American families save up and prepare for college. Therefore, the most viable option is still to get a student loan because among those families who actually save up, the average savings is only around $15,000.

The simple truth is that student loans, when done right, can facilitate access to higher education for those who need it.

Here are other reasons that resorting to student loans isn’t all that bad.

  • Believe it or not, debts are not created equally. There is actually a difference between a good debt and a bad debt. Good debt can help a person reach their goals, whereas bad debt can negatively impact a person far into their future. Most college loans are low interest and offer convenient repayment options.       This is totally different than credit card debt that is typically secured at much higher interest levels.

This is where being financially savvy helps. When a potential college student adopts the all-or-nothing approach to decision-making regarding a student loan, this is where trouble kicks in.

What’s an all-or-nothing approach? This is when a potential college student assesses college costs in a simplistic manner where they either over-borrow or refuse to borrow anything at all.

However, with proper planning on how much to borrow and how to pay for it, managing debt can be effectively done.

  • Media tends to exaggerate. What appears in newspapers, the Internet, TV, and in radio programs can be filled with exaggerations and mis-quoting of facts

Stories about jobless or underemployed college graduates with huge student debts are a dime a dozen. However, the actual numbers of these jobless or underemployed people are actually very small.

According to the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy, while it is true that the number of students and college graduates who are getting student loans is increasing, it should be noted that only 7 percent of borrowers carry debts of more than $50,000. Still lower is the number of students whose debt amounts to more than $100,000, which is just 2 percent of borrowers.

The average student who earned a bachelor’s degree carries a debt of roughly $33,000. Given that the average salary of a college graduate amounts to $45,473, the debt can certainly be paid in 10 years or less.

  • How much you can potentially earn as a recent college graduate typically depends on your level of education. This means that the higher the level of education, the higher the earnings will be. (A professional degree holder can probably earn $3.6 million in a lifetime.)

Therefore, despite getting a student loan, a person’s ability to pay through a high salary can save them from drowning in debt in the long-term. There is nothing to fear, really. As long as the person is disciplined and efficient in paying the debt once they acquire a solid well paying, pursuing higher education is certainly the best investment people can make on themselves.

The bottom line is that people shouldn’t worry too much about college costs. Do not let the fear of debt be a hindrance to acquiring a good education that can definitely serve as a foundation to help get ahead in life.