What do you do when your child tries to make up her mind among different colleges she’s been accepted to? Would your conscience allow you to give up the best possible college for a cheaper college that wasn’t as good? Could you ever live with yourself in the knowledge that you didn’t give your child the best education you could? Isn’t an education an investment that will pay for itself many times over anyway? Perhaps that was how it used to be. Seeing education in this way is no longer something that can hold water though. There are many families today that find themselves in debt for close to $100,000 from having considered a child’s education an investment that can pay for itself. Many graduates who find themselves in a merciless job market that doesn’t pay a fraction of what they hoped it would, find themselves enrolling in night school three years just on the hope that they can keep creditors for their student loan debt at bay.
Does putting off paying your child’s student loan debt off really make sense? The longer you put it off, the more the interest accrues. Does all of this sound like déjà vu? This does sound like the mortgage crisis that brought on the recession two years ago. Just as homebuyers five years ago thought that they could just swing it buying a home that would appreciate in value and make it worth their investment, students and parents today are trying to buy an education that they really cannot afford. They just hope that the investment they make will appreciate in value and somehow bring them great returns. They’re finding out just as homeowners did a couple of years ago, that reality can be very different.
It’s all panning out exactly as it did with the housing loan crisis. Colleges are enrolling students no questions asked, for courses that cost $200,000 over the duration of four years. They bring on banks that will underwrite those loans, and they all hope just like that, that those students will graduate and go on to make fat paychecks. If the jobs market happens to be disappointing, they can’t just declare bankruptcy with student loan debt either the way they can with a home loan. Federal bankruptcy law makes sure of that. Far from opening doors, an education for these young people pushes them into years of debt they can’t possibly get out of.
Typically, families that get themselves into this kind of situation start off applying for a federal loan from Sallie Mae. But after a while, Sallie Mae by the time the child gets to the final year, rejects any further advances and directs parents to apply for a private student loan with a private bank. Typically, when an application for a loan s rejected on account of maxing out credit, that person should set red lights flashing. But it usually doesn’t, because parents naively see an education as something that is worth any kind of sacrifice. Perhaps more balance is called for.