Colleges Withholding Transcripts

The Nation just did an article on colleges withholding transcripts from graduates that are in default with their student loans. Re-read that last sentence. You take out loans to pay for your college education banking on the hope that a person with a college degree will have a better chance of getting a decent paying job and firmly settling into middle-class-hood. Then you graduate and you start looking for a job. The loan folks give you six months to find a job before they start requiring repayment.

The Problem

Imagine you’ve graduated, find a low-paying job, move back in with your parents, and start working. You can’t put gas in your car, give a few dollars to your parents for bills, and pay your student loan. You’re trudging along and then one day to see a job posting for the job of your dreams! You’re a perfect fit and it’ll pay you enough to repay your student loans and maybe move out to a small roommate situation. The company requires a copy of your transcripts so you call your alma mater only to find out that you can’t get a copy of them because you’re in default on your student loans. This could become a huge problem.

Documentaries such as Default: The Student Loan Documentary are showing the problems that students are facing repaying student loans.

Debt bomb?

Yahoo! explains the problem perfectly:

A year ago, the Institute for Higher Education Policy published a study tracking the dismayingly high delinquency and default rates of the class of 2005. But as the sum of outstanding student loans has climbed towards the $1 trillion mark, passing total credit card debt along the way, the fact that America’s students are essentially putting themselves into hock for an education has more than a few people panicking. As William Brewer, head of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, told the WaPo, “This could very well be the next debt bomb for the U.S. economy.”

Suggestions

I have no answers other than the traditionally held:

#1 Attend a community college to complete your lower division classes.

#2 Choose a college with good return on investment (ROI).

#3 Get as many grants and scholarships as you can.

#4 If you have to take out loans, only take what you need. You can deny portions of your loan package.

#5 Start paying the loan off while you’re in school. Interest is a beast.

What suggestions do you have for dealing with paying for college?

Shay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today. She speaks at high schools, colleges, and companies across the country. She has written three books on personal finance, including Amazon Best Seller “Money Matters: The Get It Done in 1 Minute Workbook”. Shay has been quoted on Bankrate.com, FoxBusiness.com, and The Credit Union Times, among others. To schedule Shay to speak at your event visit www.BiggerThanYourBlock.com.

Student Loan Forgiveness Bill

I saw this post on Default: The Students Loan Documentary‘s Facebook page and I knew that you would be interested in reading about it:

Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI-13) introduced the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012 (H.R. 4170) on March 8, 2012. If enacted, this legislation will provide student loan forgiveness for federal education loans, allow private student loans to be refinanced into federal direct consolidation loans and cap all federal student loan interest rates at 3.4%.

This legislation would address some of the calls for student loan forgiveness raised by forgivestudentloandebt.com and the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Of course this has not been passed, but it’s a great step in the right direction. To read the whole article on Fastweb, click here.

To read about more ways to manage your money order a copy of 10 Things College Students  Need to Know About Money. Not sure what’s in it? Check out the reviews here.

 

 

College is Overemphasized

What's your ROI?

I’m sure I’m not the only person that remembers all the “a mind is a terrible thing to waste” commercials promoting college attendance in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Many a young person attended college and maybe even grad school in hope of graduating and starting a wonderful career that would provide for them financially. That’s a wonderful possibility, but we need to understand that it’s only one possible outcome. Some people graduate from college and can’t find a job or find a low paying job and struggle to pay back student loans.

I just read an article about America’s overemphasis on promoting college as the only pathway to success. There are certainly careers that require a college degree. There are also careers that require master’s degrees, doctoral degrees, and various types of training. I’m not for or against attending, and graduating, from college. I do want people to know that there are several paths to success. Don’t do things because you think you’re supposed to. Understand the return on investment (ROI) that you’re going to get from different career paths. Most high net worth individuals are business owners, corporate executives, and doctors/dentists. If you’re planning on one of those careers paths, you need to think long and hard about what skills you need to achieve your career goals and what the best way might be to get/grow those skills.

(Time + cost (fees, books, loans, etc.))/ expected yearly income = return on investment.

Would you spend $40,000 to earn $32,000 a year? That’s just what some of us were trained to believe we should do. Whatever you choose, make sure that it’s a choice that you’re making. Don’t choose not to attend an educational program (community college, trade school, university, etc.) or choose to attend one based on the influence of people that may have something to gain from selling you an educational experience. Figure out what you want and choose the path that you believe will help you get there.

PEACE

Save Money on College Costs

As it gets closer to the May/June season of graduations it’s time for many to think about college costs.

Even if you don’t think you will be awarded any income based grants, you should apply for aid using the FAFSA application just in case. It’s free to apply.

Remember to check that you want to have Work-Study grants on the FAFSA application. Work-Study grants allow for students have part-time jobs on campus. They are a great way to gain work experience and a decent wage.

Apply for grants from the school you’ll be attending as well as general grant clearinghouses such as Fast Web. Site should not charge you to have access to grant information.

Consider local, in-state schools as well as out-of-state schools. There are some very good bargains to be had in education. Don’t fall for the hype. Almost all undergrad degrees are equal. Going to a school with a great general reputation doesn’t mean that your major has a great department or that you’ll be offered a job automatically after graduation. Find a school that has a great department in your major and has great connections to jobs, research, etc.

Buy used textbooks. There is no reason to pay full price for textbooks. When you get on campus you’ll see notices from other students wanting to sell their old textbooks. Buying from other students is a great way to buy book cheaply. Another way to buy used textbooks is to visit the college bookstore or buy online.

Take out loans only as a last resort. Many students get stuck in student loan ruts.

Lastly, there are college and universities that will provide enough grants to make your college experience free! I found this list of 10 schools that will provide you with a great education and expect no payment.

For those that aren’t going off to college just yet, remember that high school students can:

– Take advance placement classes that will provide the student with college credit. Placement classes are available at high schools. Students sign up for these classes with their high school counselors. They are a great way to prepare students for the rigor of college coursework and shave a few dollars off of college costs.
– Take college courses at a community college while still in high school. Many students have done so well in their high school careers that by senior year they don’t plan on taking too many challenging classes. This is folly. Taking even two classes at a community college each semester over senior year, including summer, will knock off paying for a whole semester of college costs.

Default: The Student Loan Documentary

I’m so pleased to tell you that the makers of Default: The Student Loan Documentary have partnered with Bigger Than Your Block to include the trailer for Default in all copies of my second book, 10 Things Students Need to Know About Money.

As you know, my work educating folks about how important personal finance is includes college costs as well. Right now paying for college is one of the biggest challenges many families have. Traditionally, taking out loans has been the way many college students have bridged the gap between costs and available funds. While loans are not bad in and of themselves, many students weren’t sure of what they were getting themselves into and found themselves with a mountain of debt. Default: The Student Loan Documentary will help families better understand loan products. I’m proud that this informational documentary trailer will be available with 10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money.