The rising cost of higher education has been making headlines for years. Today’s college students are not ignorant of the fact that last year, for the first time in history, college loan debt surpassed credit card debt as colleges continue to raise tuition to make up for lost state funding and to keep on top of rising expenses. This year, the startling headline that outstanding student loan debt will top $1 trillion this year has many students scrambling to avoid debt. Now, some higher education experts are wondering if students are going to too many extremes to acquire as little student loan debt as possible, according to the Huffington Post.
While on the surface, taking out less debt seems like a good idea, educators worry that it makes students less likely to graduate with a degree, the article noted. Cost-saving habits like working while going to school, going to school part-time, and living at home with parents rather than on campus or at a near-campus apartment are factors that put students at risk of not graduating, the article points out. And if a student doesn’t end up completing his or her degree plan, some worry that this will have worse financial repercussions than taking on a moderate amount of debt. Another thing students do to avoid debt is to choose to attend a less expensive, less selective school. These schools tend to have fewer support resources at their disposal to encourage students to stay in school and finish their degree, adding yet another risk factor that might prevent a student from graduating, the article noted.
Interestingly enough, the College Board released information that new student loan borrowing has flattened out, as if students are finally digesting the gravity of the amount of student loan debt acquired by those who have gone before them. In fact, on a per-student basis adjusted for inflation, new borrowing has actually declined. While increased federal aid is one reason suspected for this stagnation in borrowing, another factor could be that students are just borrowing less.
A larger percentage of students who borrow end up attending college full time than students who opt not to borrow, which helps students work toward their degree faster and makes them more likely to graduate, according to the article. Finally, students who opt to attend community college as a cost-saving measure in order to pay for school as they go may be putting themselves at a disadvantage. Only 26% of students who do this hoping to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree actually accomplish their goal within nine years.
Students would have less of an aversion to student loans if they were better educated on how to keep them at a minimum and better understood the difference between federal and private loans, experts in the article pointed out. After all, if a reasonable loan helps you earn a degree and attain a profitable career, it may not be such a scary idea after all.
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