Student loans: Are they really worth it?

January 26, 2011 — by Ashwini Velchamy

No matter how much effort and how much money you put into it, college always pays off … doesn’t it?

With significant cost increases to the price of college education, it’s no wonder many are starting to worry about whether or not paying the high cost of going to a good college is worth it.

However, this mind-set that college loans are impossible to pay off mostly comes from those who failed to plan their future properly and realistically.

Millions of students rely on loans to pay for part or all of college. An overwhelming number of them leave college with student debt, averaging around $22,700 according to an article in Forbes. This statistic forces college hopefuls to think about whether they really want to spend several years (or longer) attempting to pay off those loans after graduation.

Also, with the tight economy and low wages, reports show that the jobs available to fresh college graduates are decreasing, increasing the appeal for other educational alternatives.

The horror stories of most who have struggle with debt, however, could have been thwarted if they had asked themselves a simple yet important question at the very beginning: Will I actually be able to repay this loan? Will the field I intend to study pay me a salary that will oblige this loan?

The Wall Street Journal said that after graduating from medical school in 2003, Michelle Bisutti from Ohio had student loans amounting to $250,000. Now her total stands at $555,000. This, while partly resulted from compounding interest rates, also came from her deferring loan payments during college. If she had kept up with her loans from the start and paid them on time, Dr. Bisutti probably would not be haunted with such an enormous debt, which might take her the rest of her life to pay off.

Many people, however, disregard this and end up taking a $200,000 loan, when they can only possibly make $50,000 annually, or even less.

College-goers should limit the amount of loan they take out or at least find other ways to finance their education.

The truth is that even with the high cost, college pays off. The economy may be at a down point with national unemployment rates at 9.8 percent, but those with college educations resulting in a bachelor’s degree or higher only have a 4.7 percent unemployment rates. Those with some college education have an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent, while workers with only a high school diploma are at 10.1 percent. This reinforces the point that, as expensive as college is, it beats having either a low-wage job or no job at all.

Overall, yes: College is definitely worth it. Why settle for less when you can get a great college education? Loans will, of course, play a part in your college life. However, by thinking rationally, minimizing spending, and paying on time, you should not be prevented from seeking the education or career you want because of student loans.

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