Imagine being able to go to school and not having to pay a dime for tuition, and I’m not even talking about getting a full scholarship to the school. I mean that it isn’t even expected of you to cover any of the costs of your schooling for every single student attending that university. One man named Peter Cooper thought that some students should be given this chance, and he created Cooper Union which was a school that did just that. This school was established in 1859 and offered all students a chance at a free college education until recently it was decided in 2014 that the school would stop this policy and start charging around $20,000 for tuition. So what exactly went wrong? Continue reading
2013 has been an excellent year for me when it comes to paying off my student loans. I have completely paid off two of my highest interest loans, and have put a little over $20,000 towards the principal since I’ve started this blog. This blog has been a huge reason for that, and it really opened my eyes to my student loan debt. If I hadn’t started this, I probably wouldn’t have even paid half of that amount towards my principal this past year and I’d be looking at total payback period of 5-6 years, which is still ahead of the 10 year loan period but not quite the pace I’d like to achieve now! Blogging has been a great tool as well as a great stress reliever, not to mention being able to write out my plan of attack when it comes to all of these loans. Continue reading
What would you do if you suddenly were given the option to take a job that would guarantee you of a salary of $172,000? Maybe you could move your retirement plans that much earlier, save more in your children’s 529 plan, or really start saving for a down payment for a house. Maybe you are already making that much, or even more! I know most of us aren’t though. I would probably start to pay down my debt at about three times the current rate I’m paying off my loans. Why the number $172,000 you might ask? That is the salary of Congressmen Phil Gingrey. He is in fact making $172,000 a year in Congress but apparently that just isn’t enough for him.
You may have noticed that I was inactive for a few weeks on my old blog, and I apologize for that. I have not abandoned my blog at all – quite the opposite! I was on vacation for a week, down at the beach in Ocean City, Maryland and then I had a family wedding to attend. It was nice to take some time off from work again and the weather was really nice most days. But I’ve also been really busy behind the scenes with my blog.
A recent article on the Harvard Business Review blog discussing the current state of college education. Their summary? It’s not looking pretty. A little over half of students are completing their four-year degrees within 6 years, and only 26% (!!!) of people getting two-year degrees finish within 3 years  . That means that a large portion of the second half of those students at four-year colleges aren’t even graduating and most likely still have some amount of debt and no degree.
I don’t necessarily think it’s that students are becoming dumber or lazy, but many college students are simply unprepared for such a decision. You have just turned 18 years old and high school didn’t really prepare you for this. All of a sudden you need to decide what you want to do the rest of your life, oh and by the way, if you make the wrong decision you will have to work anyways because you will have $35,000 in debt!
Students and parents need to become more involved in this process, do your research ahead of time! What do you enjoy doing? What are your passions? Figure out what schools you can go to, how much they will cost, and then how much someone in that field can expect to make after graduation. Will you be able to pay off the debt in a reasonable amount of time on that salary, or will you be stuck in debt forever?
If you are currently in college my advice would be: you definitely need to work your ass off. You are the one paying for your education, so don’t waste your money. GPA is also not the end all that some people make it out to be, but it can really be a determining factor in screening canidates to be selected for interview. Don’t freak out if you don’t have a 4.0, but many companies do set a threshold of say a 3.5 in order to be able to interview with them. After your first job though, GPA becomes largely unimportant.
Use your time wisely too, you don’t need to spend every waking minute studying or doing homework but you want to set aside enough time to be succesful. There will still be plenty of time to party – do you really need to wake up hungover every morning? More importantly, you need to network. Internships and co-op positions are extremely valuable experience and a good way to make connections. You could be the smartest person at your school but if you don’t know anyone, have no experience, and lack communication skills you may get passed over by an “above average” student that has been building their resume. Your college should have a ton of resources at your disposal, get to know your career development office very well and any professors that have industry experience.
If you are looking to go to college or know someone who is and they are unsure of what they want to do, don’t waste those years at an expensive 4-year college. Go to community college and save the money, take some classes there and figure out where your interests are first. It would be much better to “waste” that time there, especially because if your grades were good enough in high school many times community college can be free or close to free. Many states also have transition programs to state colleges afterwards that are similiar in nature. If you woul prefer something more hands on, you may be able to skip the college route all together – research some technical and trade schools in your area as well.