College without crushing debt?

Young people need a college degree to get a decent job, which means they need to borrow.  And, if they can’t get that decent job, they’re stuck with crushing, credit-ruining, undischargeable debt, writes Kevin Carey of Education Sector.  Linking all loans to borrowers’ income will help, but the Obama administration also needs to look for ways to provide affordable alternatives to high-priced colleges.

Community colleges will be able to experiment with limiting students’ access to unsubsidized federal loans in the hopes of preventing overborrowing and defaults.

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  1. Stacy in NJ says:

    But college doen’t need to be expensive. If more students began at CC and then went on to four year schools, they’d graduate with significantly less debt. Many want the four year experience and are willing to pay for it, or, at least, take out the loans for it.

  2. I have three children who have either completed a four year degree, or are currently in school. All three have had vastly different experiences. My oldest did two years at a CC and completed her degree. My middle son went to the Army… did two tours in Iraq and is now completing his degree with the GI bill. My youngest is at USC. He just entered his sophomore year. It is sad that school costs so much and that our future (youngsters) have to come up with so much money to get the education needed to contribute to our society. My youngest has a 1/2 scholarship. I have to pay the rest. A struggle but worth it.

  3. It’s not like there aren’t good schools out there that don’t break the bank. I went to Texas A&M back in the 1970s and it wasn’t expensive then and had a pretty well thought of school of engineering. From their website:

    we find that today, a 15-hour semester for an engineering student who lives on campus runs to about $4,600. I don’t think that means enormous, crushing debt burden as long as the student doesn’t just put the whole four years on loans alone.

    Paying half as you go and half on loans would lead to less than $20,000 in student debt, which seems workable if the student actually gets the degree and gets a job as an engineer.

    The real difficulties seem to me to be with those who attend for a couple of years on loans alone and then drop out. That kind of debt with no job is indeed tough.

  4. Mark Roulo says:

    “…a 15-hour semester for an engineering student who lives on campus runs to about $4,600.”

    The $4,600 is for a resident of Texas. Basically in-state tuition. Out of state tuition is much higher, I’m sure, so the valuable lesson here is: “Go to a public in-state college.”

    The $4,600 does not cover housing and food.

    Figure $13K/year for tuition and another $12K for living expenses, so we’re looking at $100K in four years. Some of this can be mitigated by working (although I’d expect that working and being a full-time engineering student might not go together real well …).

    If we figure 20 hours/week at $10/hour for our hypothetical student, cost of tuition plus housing/food is $25K per year and income is $10K. If loans make up the difference, our engineer graduates in four years with $60K in debt.

    I think for this to work out, you really want to live at home (for free!) if you can. Best would be if your parents lived near A&M. Next best would be to do two years at the local CC and then transfer. But four years at an in-state school where you pay for room and board as well as tuition can still run up the bills.