Student loan debt is a big issue for Millennials. It is the most common way of funding your college and graduate school education – but doing so has become a ‘Game of Loans’.
But before you start to think that getting a student loan is like an alliance with the House of Lannister, understanding what you are getting into is an important first step.
In the U.S., the total outstanding student loan debt is around $1.2 trillion dollars with the average student debt for a grad being around $33.000 (2014 figures).
Come off of graduation day with $33,000 in debt that begins to require monthly payments shortly thereafter can definitely take the wind out of your sails – and prevent you from being able to purchase other things you might want, like a car or home.
Perhaps the biggest question you need to ask yourself is what is the return on my investment for the education you are financing. Will the degree you earned, ‘pay off’ in giving you enough income over your working life to afford paying off the loan it required -and- prove you with enough remaining $$$ to actually live the life you want.
As a general rule – try to avoid student loans as much as possible. Look for other monies, some of which is available for little cost to you in scholarships.
It’s sometimes daunting to understand all the facets of the ‘Game of Loans’ – but taking steps to understand the rules of the game will prevent you from ending up with the dragons.
From the New York Times today, The American student loan crisis is often seen as a problem of profligacy and predation. Wasteful colleges raise tuition every year, we are told, even as middle-class wages stagnate and unscrupulous for-profit colleges bilk the unwary. The result is mounting unmanageable debt.
From Yahoo – Medical professionals often leave school with jaw-dropping amounts of student loan debt. Among 2014 graduates from medical school, for example, most (84%) reported having education debt, with a median amount just over $176,000, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Even if they earn high incomes when they graduate (physicians, for example, are among the highest earners in America), by the time that debt — with interest — is repaid, the tab can be significantly higher.
From Fidelity.com, some great advise on student loans.
When Philly resident Chenell Tull’s grace period ended 6 months after graduation, her $45,000 in private loans turned into $52,000. That’s because post-grace period, the student loan companies took the interest that had accrued while Tull was in school and added it to the principal.
Sometimes just being clever is the best way to save yourself money! From Good Morning America – Texas Man Builds Miniature House in Hopes of Avoiding College Debt!
Joel Weber said he’s determined to incur less college debt by living in the tiny, 145-square-foot house he built, rather than struggling to pay higher rent in his college town of Austin, Texas.
“I wanted a place to call home,” Weber told ABC News. “I wanted it to be affordable so I could be debt-free and let it be an investment to give back to the community — not just dumped into rent that I wouldn’t get any return on.”
Weber, who will begin his junior year at the University of Texas at Austin, said it can cost upwards of $800 a month to live in the area near his school.
From Yahoo – Two years after leaving school, students default on their federal loans at a rate of 9.1%, according to a 2013 report by the New York Federal Reserve. That figure jumps to 13.4% at the three-year mark.
From the NYTimes – Once again, the headlines are filled with claims that student loans are bad. Several articles have highlighted results from a Gallup poll that shows that college graduates who borrow for college are less happy, healthy and wealthy than debt-free graduates. The Gallup report (which is cautious in its interpretation of the data) has been drawn into a rising chorus of news media reports on the negative consequences of borrowing: Student loans not only make you sick but also hamper homeownership and delay marriage.
Student loans need reform. But recent reports obscure the key benefit of borrowing for college: a college education.
The highlight of the Gallup report is a comparison of the well-being of college graduates who did not borrow and those who borrowed more than $50,000. As I discussed in this New York Times article in June, 43 percent of undergraduates borrow nothing, and 98 percent borrow less than $50,000. The report is therefore comparing the 43 percent of undergraduates who borrow nothing with those with the highest debt loads.
From the Hamilton Project, here’s a great tool for calculating the costs of your student loan. It’s important to have an understanding on how much you are borrowing, what your monthly payments will be once you graduate, and how much of the money you owe is actually interest.
As yourself the question – How hard will it be to pay off my loan?