Dealing with rising college costs

The issue of rising college costs is a hot topic these days, as young students and families grapple with the issue of how to pay for a college education. Too many young people are saddled with crippling college debt, and as this has gained more attention, it has certainly focused the minds of many Americans as they weigh their options.

Universities are reacting as well, and some of the trends are very promising. Davidson College has created an innovative no-loan policy.

“When I got my acceptance letter and my tuition bill, it told us that everything was mostly paid for,” she recalls. “I had heard something about Davidson’s no-loan policy, but it didn’t make sense because it sounded too good to be true. My mom was like, ‘This can’t be right. We need to go talk to them.’ ” The admission counselor explained that, because of the Davidson Trust, the school was able to cover 100 percent of demonstrated need without loans. Her mother cried. “At the time, I felt kind of embarrassed. When we walked back to my car, she said, ‘I’m so happy. I feel like I should make [the counselor] something.’ ”

Other schools like Harvard are also making it much easier for students to get grants instead of loans in order to lower the student debt burden. Families and students need to do their research, and you have to factor in costs and debt into your decision. Otherwise students will have this debt hanging over them for much of their careers.

You can read more about the student debt crisis and the value of a college education versus the costs here, here and here.

Read all of these materials, and you’ll be much more prepared for the decisions you’ll have to make.

The value of your major in college

This is a very controversial topic. What should you have in mind when choosing a college major?

On the one hand, it’s very important to study something you enjoy. If you do that you will likely excel or at least do better, and then you can think about how to turn that degree into a career. If you love English or History, this thinking says you should pursue these majors.

On the other hand, particularly if you’re taking out big loans, to what extent is it important to study something that will lead to an actual career? Majors like engineering and accounting come to mind.

This article examines the topic from the perspective of turning your major into a career.

The student might say, “English,” “psychology,” “political science” or “engineering.”

And then, in my mind, after factoring in some other information, I say to myself “job” or “no job,” depending on the major.

An English major with no internships or any plan of what she might do with the major to earn a living? No job.

A political science major with no internships that could lead to a specific job opportunity? No job, I think.

Engineering major with three relevant internships in the engineering field? Ding. Ding. We have a winner. Job.

Read the entire article.

In one sense, it tilts too far to the career area. Yet it brings up an important point. Too many college students have no idea how they can earn a living after college, and WAY too many of them are taking out huge loans and then selecting majors that will make it very difficult for them to repay those loans whiles earning a living.

The bottom line is that all factors have to be considered. I think it’s important that college students pursue an education. College has to be much more than just a vocational program.

Yet you have to have common sense. Maybe you can get that English degree at a great public university instead of a small liberal arts school that costs $50,000 per year. This way if you decide that grad school makes sense for your career after you get that English or History degree, you’ll be in a much better position financially to make that decision.

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