It is the time of year when hopeful students are visiting colleges, attending auditions and waiting. Waiting for scholarships, waiting for good news and filling out their FAFSA forms. Student loan debt is in the trillions and though the efforts of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and the comments President Obama are constant, and the entire situation would suggest that the epidemic of this loan debt is really hurting our economy, it seems that the epidemic is unstoppable. Students want to go to college, and in fact, do need that four-year education to compete in the job market. Colleges have been raising tuition costs for more than 20 years. Middle class parents cannot afford to cash-flow college and cannot qualify for assistance of any kind. What is the solution?
Let’s take a look at alternatives to the traditional college experience:
2-year college is a very viable option and much more cost-effective.
Working and living at home can save thousands of dollars.
Re-thinking what constitutes a good education by evaluating the outcome of that education might make students reevaluate their college choice. Most students do not come out of college trained to begin employment. College is a great place to grow up, to gain four years of experience, to make friends, to live away from home and to begin to figure out what career you might be interested in, but unless you are becoming an engineer, a lawyer, a doctor, a nurse or a teacher (and there are a few other careers in this category) your chances of graduating ready for a fantastic career are slim. Of the above careers, only three will enable you to pay back your student loan in a timely manner. Most students carry their debit well into their 30s and 40s. Sadly, many parents are carrying their debt to the grave.
Student and parent loan debt has frozen our economy for many, many people who cannot purchase homes, spend money in retail stores or save for their own children’s college education, or their own retirement.
The change has to start with our attitude, beginning with what we tell our children about college and what they are led to believe they will get from that education. An honest evaluation of what we are getting for our money might reveal that times are changing and new traditions are beginning. The focus on employment, income projections and the ability to attend college without going into financial duress is as important a discussion as which campus looks like a fun place to spend four years.