Scrolling Headlines:

The Collegian live tweets Boston Calling -

May 28, 2016

UMass baseball finishes season with sweep over George Mason -

May 22, 2016

UMass women’s lacrosse falls in NCAA quarterfinal -

May 22, 2016

‘Green Room’ is a bloody blast of survival horror -

May 21, 2016

DaLuz: Boston Celtics stuck trudging in the mud -

May 18, 2016

Despite tallying double-digit hits, UMass baseball falls to Fairfield Tuesday afternoon -

May 17, 2016

Radiohead returns to the top with gorgeous, illuminating ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ -

May 16, 2016

UMass women’s lacrosse advances to quarterfinal of NCAA tournament -

May 16, 2016

UMass baseball outlasts Rhode Island in series finale behind strong pitching of Brandon Walsh -

May 15, 2016

Eileen McDonald’s overtime goal advances UMass women’s lacrosse in NCAA tournament -

May 14, 2016

12 UMass students face possible arrests in connection to an alleged bad LSD trip -

May 14, 2016

UMass baseball falls in first-ever Division I matchup with UMass Lowell 7-3 -

May 11, 2016

UMass baseball gets shut out in nonconference matchup with UConn -

May 10, 2016

UMass women’s lacrosse tops Richmond, wins eighth straight Atlantic 10 championship -

May 9, 2016

UMass baseball salvages last game of weekend series with Richmond behind strong eighth inning -

May 9, 2016

UMass women’s lacrosse beats St. Joe’s, advance to Atlantic 10 championship game -

May 7, 2016

Lack of offense plagues UMass baseball in game two of doubleheader with Fordham -

May 1, 2016

UMass women’s lacrosse tops Davidson 12-5 on Senior Day -

May 1, 2016

Two arrested after report of aggravated robbery in Washington Hall last night -

May 1, 2016

Former UMass wide receiver Tajae Sharpe selected in fifth round of 2016 NFL Draft -

April 30, 2016

Don’t take out student loans without a game plan

Taylor C. Snow/Collegian

One fell swoop of the pen is all it takes to place oneself into unimaginable debt. Whether taking out a private loan, or a standard federal Stafford or Perkins Loan, about 12 million of the 20 million students in the United States borrow money each year as they fight their way through debt in order to earn their college degrees. But is it worth it?

According to the Project on Student Debt, 65 percent of students attending college in Massachusetts graduate with student debt, and the average deficit is $27,000 for each individual. On top of that, about 9 percent of students in the U.S. are still jobless one year after graduating.

And $27,000 is just the average. Next time you take a trip to the Student Union, take a look at the fence by the ongoing construction behind The Hatch. You will find a couple dozen sheets of paper, each stating complaints regarding student loans. One student wrote: “70 thousand dollars in debt, 70 years it will take to pay off.” Another wrote: “What kind of system trusts 17 year olds with signing their name for $80,000 of debt?”

That leaves the question: Do students really know what they are getting themselves into when signing those loans? It’s safe to say that your average 17-year-old is not entirely educated on today’s economy. For most high school students in the Northeast, however, the opportunity to go a four-year college is not even thought about twice. If the loan part of the process is overlooked, the student will probably have the mentality of: “I won’t worry about this now. I’ll just enjoy my college experience, get my degree and worry about the money later.”

That mentality won’t work if a job doesn’t present itself upon graduation. It takes a lifetime for some people to pay off their college loans. To be constantly in debt and having to worry about your financial situation for decades after graduation can be disconcerting, but the outcome really depends on your own decisions.

One thing to consider when taking out loans is your major and intended career path. If you are projected to have a debt of say $60,000 after graduating, it’s best not to be majoring in arts, history, journalism, communications, etc. I’m not saying you can’t make money in those fields, but generally from the start, don’t be expecting even half of a six-figure salary. The best way to measure it is to not take out more than the average starting salary for your desired job. As a journalism major, the average starting salary is around $25,000, so I would not take out more than $25,000 in loans over the course of four years.

Taylor C. Snow/Collegian

If $25,000 in loans isn’t affordable, there other alternatives. You don’t need to take all of your courses at the college or university that you attend. You are in college to focus on one area of study (maybe two or three depending if you have a minor or another major). If you’re going to have outstanding debt, there’s no need to take the general education or global education classes at the primary school you are attending – especially if attending an overly expensive private school. Take advantage of the courses that community colleges have to offer. They may get a bad reputation, but these are general education classes that most likely will not have an impact on your desired field.

There’s also nothing wrong with taking a semester or a year off to earn a little bit of cash. Don’t feel rushed to get through college so quickly. It’s common for a student to take longer than four years to get through an institution. One extra year is not going to make an impact on your future.

It’s a fact that the college degree is losing value. Of course, one is obviously better off with a degree and it would be wise for every student to consider college as an option. Degrees are now so commonplace, that it is no longer the deciding factor when an employer makes his pick of the flock. Nowadays, it’s all about connections, experience through internships and a high range of skill sets.

Most students in the U.S. are in debt, but no matter the financial situation, there are ways around it so that it won’t take a lifetime to pay off loans. Having a degree is something that won’t necessarily be the highlight of your resume when on a job hunt, but not having one is something that will most likely hurt you. Just don’t sign off on those loans without a game plan.

Taylor Snow is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at tsnow@dailycollegian.com

 

Comments
5 Responses to “Don’t take out student loans without a game plan”
  1. Wisdom says:

    First piece of advice: Don’t major in journalism. You can be a journalist without that specific degree as long as you get some experience – ahem, The Collegian.

    Second piece: Measure the cost of the degree against the loan. $60k for a teaching gig just ain’t worth it.

    Third piece: Have fun. It’s college. You’ve had several hangovers already. You’ll get over the one in four years.

  2. Navneet says:

    Taylor you right enough but the situation depends on country. Here in India even the poverty and unemployment is much more then any other country but still we prefer to take loans because degrees do not cost much and i always teach students that degrees are worth.

  3. Dan Lui says:

    If you’re considering paying off one or more of your loans ahead of schedule, or trying to reduce the principal, start with the one that has the highest interest rate. If you have private loans in addition to federal loans, start with your private loans, since they almost always have higher interest rates and lack the flexible repayment options and other protections of federal loans.

  4. Dr. Ed Cutting says:

    The problem with working your way through school rather than taking out loans — which is what I did — is that by the time you are done, everyone thinks you are too old to have just graduated.

  5. Alum says:

    70 years to pay off $70K? Obviously you didn’t take a math class!

    Seriously though, if you are taking out a loan to go to college, make sure you are coming out with some marketable skills. Too many students major in something just to major in it, without thinking about their job prospects after graduating.

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