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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Back To School Debt

The staggering unemployment figures have driven the US working class into a dizzying spin. According to data from the US Bureau of Labor, overall, US unemployment now stands at 9.1%. Rather than sit around, many unemployed Americans have headed back to school.

Of course, returning to school after a sabbatical from work does make a lot of sense. Learning a new skill may open up new income opportunities. Getting out of the house, meeting and networking with others also beats becoming lazy, crazy, or bored. In addition to the many other benefits of returning to school, getting access to educational federally backed loans that have no bearing on a now depressed FICO score or bankruptcy history, is a 'hush hush' benefit that cannot be denied.

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It certainly seems more honorable to go back to school than to sit on the sofa and create a permanent imprint of your ever-expanding rear. However, no matter how honorable, justifiable, and entertaining - going back to school also adds to the heaviest burden of unemployment - new DEBT!

When you consider that the average college tuition cost has increased by 900% since 1978 in the USA, and that the average student racks up about $25K in debt by graduation, plus the fact that within 3 years, 14% default on their student loan; student debt is on the horizon to becoming the next national financial headache.

With a bit of research and time, adult students may find there are scholarships or grants they qualify for. However, many anxious to get their hands on credit history ignored loans, may not do due diligence in this area. Ignorance of the process, overwhelmed and under staffed financial aid help, and a lack of creative thinking may limit scholarship and grant access. Who knew being taller than 6' 2" qualified a person for a scholarship? Would you even think to check? How about applying for a $3000 scholarship because you created a prom dress out of duct tape? Well, there is an app (scholarship application) for that too.

State colleges will always be more affordable than out-of-state options, and technical schools are usually shorter in duration and more affordable than local 4-year universities.

On campus employment, work from home opportunities as a flex-time side income, taking the maximum study load during a semester to complete the program faster, and bagging lunch are some of the other ways to reduce the cost of the back to school experience.

Using educational loan funds for anything other than education; for example: to pay for cable, weekend entertainment, and to enjoy other quality of life experiences - is debt adding behavior. Generally, debt free wealth will never be achieved if the debt adding process continues. Educational debt, no matter how arguably justified, is still a debt. Avoiding the debt through accessing educational plans, scholarships and grants, or at least minimizing the expenses it is the best way to return to school while still working to have debt free wealth.

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