“Subprime” student loans

A friend recently sent me a link to an article about college students getting in way over their heads with student loans... with the help of lenders.

What it boils down to is this: Students and parents have been sold on the idea that getting a college degree from a "top" school is the key to getting a good, well-paying job with benefits, thus securing one's professional and financial future. Full of hope, optimism, and blind faith, students are racking up huge amounts of debt - nearly $100,000 in the case of the student featured in the article - in order to get their college degree. 

Unfortunately, many students are graduating only to find that good jobs are hard to come by, even with a degree from a top school. And once they have to start paying back those student loans, the financial burden can be a real hardship.

What this student and many others are discovering the hard way is that the days when a college degree guaranteed professional and financial success are long gone. Sadly, well-meaning parents are passing this outdated strategy down to their kids. 

I'm not advising for or against getting a college degree. It depends on the path the student wants to take. Many of the world's most successful people never got a college degree. If you or a family member is considering college, make sure you do a careful evaluation of the cost and the benefits you expect to gain. Then get a reality check - talk to people who've gotten the degree you want to get. There are a lot of people who will try to sell you on the benefits of an expensive college education. Do your homework, then make your own informed decision. This is one homework assignment that could save you tens of thousands of dollars - literally.

Original publish date: June 01, 2010