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Beware the college debt trap

Young people are encouraged to see College as an investment that will pay off in the future, but borrowing to pay for college can be a bad choice, writes math teacher Darren on Right on the Left Coast.

He recalls his own ignorance and arrogance in applying for college without considering how he’d pay for it. (Nobody in his family had ever earned a degree.) He assumed he’d get into the Air Force Academy, but didn’t. Unable to pay for UCLA or Purdue, he was planning to enlist and eventually use the GI Bill to fund college. Then he was accepted at tuition-free West Point.

For all the college-planning mistakes he made, Darren did not go into Debt.

College debt is riskier for black students because they’re poorer to begin with, borrow more and earn less after graduation, reports the Boston Globe.

The story’s protagonist “chose to go to a private college” and “chose to take on debt,” writes Darren.

Black students are more likely to take out federal college loans, reports the Globe.

African-American students who started college in 2003-04 typically owed 113 percent of their student loan 12 years later, according to the most recent data from the US Department of Education analyzed by the Center for American Progress.

By contrast, white borrowers had paid down their debt and owed only 65 percent of the original amount, and Hispanic borrowers had knocked down their debt to 83 percent of the initial loan.

Blacks also are more likely to enroll in high-priced for-profit colleges and more likely to drop out before completing a degree.

The Globe also profiles a 46-year-old single mother of three who went to community college and then Lesley University, which is private, to earn a bachelor’s degree. She finished with $10,000 in debt, but couldn’t earn enough to support her family.

So she returned to school at Bridgewater State University to get her master’s degree in social work, in the hopes of finding a higher-paying position, with a leadership role. . . . by the time she finishes her program next May, she anticipates owing $70,000 in student loans.

Social work is not a well-paid line of work, Darren notes.

I think we in education do a disservice to kids.  We make it clear, both subtly and overtly, that going to college is the only “right” choice to make out of high school, and that anyone who doesn’t go to college has essentially failed the first test of adulthood.

. . .  I’d get rid of two views:  first, the idea that everyone can and should attend college, and second, the entitlement mentality that says you should have whatever you want simply because you want it.  I’d have people focus on reasonable, achievable, affordable goals — subsidized community colleges do a great job of meeting general ed requirements at a relatively affordable price.

In an earlier blog post, links to a San Francisco Chronicle story on Berkeley students using food stamps and food pantries.



This post first appeared on Joanne Jacobs — Thinking And Linking By Joanne Jacobs, please read the originial post: here

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Beware the college debt trap

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