Burden or Benefit: The College Debt Debate

As a college student, you should be expected to be responsible for yourself and at least start thinking about being responsible for your own future.

Contrary to popular belief college is not just the “next” step after high school. Choosing to go to college is a choice to invest in your future, but also a choice to take on additional responsibilities. From simple things like laundry, food, and general hygiene to bigger things like, housing, career, and tuition.

We all know that college is expensive, sometimes mind-blowingly so, but the cost and the ensuing debt, no matter how daunting, does not have to be un-manageable.

Being okay with your accruing debts begins with a smart decision about how much you expect to make in your career and how much you are able to and are willing to pay. I did not always understand the pressures of college debt, my parents graciously picked up most of the tab for my undergraduate education, so at the end of four years, I was about $15, 000 in the hole… not too shabby right?

Then came grad school, and my parents once again graciously… bowed out… wait, what?!

So here I am, one year of a masters program done, and one year to go and my debt has gone from $15,000 to $41,000, and in a years time it will be almost $70,000. Somehow I am able to look at those numbers and not sink into a massive fit of depression and overwhelming anxiety.

Student debt should be looked at as an investment, because that truly is what it is. Put it in on the same plane as buying a house, investing in the market, or buying health insurance. All of these things are expenses that must be managed and paid for, but all pay out in dividends in the end.

I chose to willingly take on additional debt because I wanted to be an expert in my field, and did my research on what “experts” were being paid. I weighed my options and opted for federal student loans with low interest rates that allowed me to forgo payment while I was still in school, and for six months after.

With President Obama aiming to re-work the financial aid system in this country, and his various work incentive programs, I feel overwhelmingly confident in my ability to pay my loans back, and am happy with the choice I made.

For the well off and the gifted, college tuition payment may not even be an issue of contention or consideration. But for the rest of us, paying $100,000 or more for a, at times, mediocre education seems ludicrous.

There are times when I agree; it’s an absolutely insane amount of money; and then there are the times when I look at my resume and know that it is worth it.

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