An Unconventional Guide to Paying for College

Don’t Go to College if You Can’t Afford It!

dont go to college

I will warn you, this post may come across as somewhat of a rant. Ok, to be honest, it is entirely a rant. However, I am passionate about this subject, and hopefully you won’t skewer me for letting you know what I truly feel. This post is somewhat of a follow-up of my post last week about the recent law introduced in Michigan to give out free college tuition.

One of the biggest problems in our country today is the fact that so many people feel entitled. They may feel entitled to a bigger house, a brand new car, a vacation twice per year, a wife, a family, a good paying job, and a college education. I work with students every day who have one goal in mind: graduate from college. They will do whatever it takes to reach this goal. That might mean sacrificing 6 years of their life in pursuit of the degree, taking out more student loans than they could ever repay in a lifetime, or it could even mean endangering their health with binge drinking or lack of sleep while in college.

Some of the most financially unhealthy people I have ever met live on college campuses. The vast majority of these students have a lot of debt and ZERO income. Student loans are structured so students can borrow the funds they need to graduate with the intent that they can then get a job and begin to repay those loans. But what if that job does not happen? Or possibly even worse, what if reality slaps them in the face and they realize that a college degree does not guarantee a cushy office job with a corner window and a fat salary?

Every day I speak with parents and students who are struggling to make ends meet. This may be because the parents lost their job and can no longer pay for their child’s education, because the student’s GPA slipped and they lost an important scholarship, or it might be because a graduate student lost the funding for his graduate assistantship and now his tuition has skyrocketed. All of these situations can be heartbreaking, but in the end my question continues to be: should you go to college if you cannot afford it?

There are many people in both sides of the “go to college at all costs” camps. Some agree, and some reject that train of thought. Whatever stance you take, I don’t think you can deny the fact that many students are obtaining their college degrees only AFTER they have put either themselves or their parents in a precarious financial state. Is it worth it?

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10 Comments

  1. I think college is important and I think that everybody who wants to go to college should give themselves the opportunity. That being said, I think people need to make responsible choices given their particular financial situation. I wrote a post last week that I feel everybody should have a job while going to college. I also think that if you have no college savings, you should consider options that won’t put you deep in debt. Consider commuter schools and also consider taking transferable classes at a community college, options that can still land you a degree and at a fraction of the cost.
    Money Beagle recently posted..Bronchitis And A Double Ear InfectionMy Profile

  2. When I applied to college, my family couldn’t afford it – my dad had just been laid off and I was applying to one of the priciest schools in the country. The result? TONS of grants (thank you!) and a moderate amount of undergraduate loans at low interest rates. I think it all depends on what you plan to DO with your degree – if you want to be a teacher or a doctor, you need that education.
    Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals recently posted..Five Simple Work FixesMy Profile

    • @Elizabeth — You hit it on the head. If you do make the decision to go to college and pursue higher education, you need a plan! Far too many students go to college just to go, and then realize that they have no clue what they are doing when it is already too late.
      MoneyforCollegePro recently posted..Scholarship of the Day: Healthy Lifestyles ScholarshipMy Profile

  3. Being educated and learning new things is the best gift you can give yourself in this world. Some people can educate themselves in the “real” world. Others need a more structured learning environment initially, like college. If you are in the latter category, ask yourself “How can I afford it?” As said above, work as much as you possible can while in college to earn extra income and avoid loans as much as possible. The work is not just for the money. It is also an experience that will give you a step up to all those who did not work during college.

  4. Being educated and learning new things is the best gift you can give yourself in this world. Some people can educate themselves in the “real” world. Others need a more structured learning environment initially, like college. If you are in the latter category, ask yourself “How can I afford it?” As said above, work as much as you possible can while in college to earn extra income and avoid loans as much as possible. The work is not just for the money. It is also an experience that will give you a step up to all those who did not work during college.

  5. The thing that’s interesting to me about college is that today’s world is forcing what *should* be an essentially non-profit endeavor into something that students feel that they should derive profits from (in the form of a good job upon graduation). I agree with you that more students should really sit down and evaluate the costs of college versus potential earnings, but it saddens me that something that should enrich lives (an education) is perpetually reduced to a dollars and cents check-off list.
    Bryan recently posted..Are You Frugal or Downright Cheap? – Guest PostMy Profile

    • @Bryan — You know I have not ever really thought about it in that way but you make a good point. What really, is our goal in obtaining an education? Just to land a job and make money, or to enrich our lives. Certainly we can do both, but often our underlying motivations and desires will affect how we reach our goals.

  6. Check out http://www.new.edu . Associates, Bachelors, and Masters in a limited number of topics (but fairly useful ones) for about $10k total. Not a diploma mill. These are accredited degrees.
    mbhunter recently posted..Time is not moneyMy Profile

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