Reading the Buffalo News yesterday [Aug. 19, 2012) I came across an article titled “Student Loans Could Hit Your Social Security”. It is a sobering article that parents and their children who are in or considering college should read. Basically, the article points out that student loans are a growing burden on families and young adults in this country. A student loan is typically not discharged even if an individual files for bankruptcy.
In this continued recession as more and more graduates find it hard to find jobs the student debt they compiled while attending college becomes a burden that falls to the parents or grandparents and the government is now tapping their Social Security (SS) payments. The increase is staggering. In 2000 the Government garnished the SS payments of 6 individuals. In 2012 the number is up to 115,000 and the number is growing.
As a parent I suggest the following:
- Save for your children’s college
- Encourage your children to save for when they graduate High School
- Help your child evaluate the costs and benefits of going to college
- Choose schools you can and your student can afford
- Avoid student loans as much as possible and definitely try to avoid cosigning for a student loan
- If a loan is necessary avoid private student loans and use the government sources. Hey maybe someday they’ll bail you out like they did Wall Street and Banks
- Search for grants and scholarships. There are many, but they do require some effort and they are competitive
- Explore local colleges and allow the student to stay at home
- Find a job that will reimburse tuition while you work there
- Evaluate if college is really what is needed for your child’s desired occupation
- Avoid declaring a major. Many colleges ‘require’ students to declare a major knowing the student will change their mind and many of the classes will not transfer thus they need to stay another year or two.
- Take the local Community Two Year College seriously and know that it can be a great stepping-stone for transfer to a Four Year College/University.
- Be careful about signing up for colleges that are only online
- Review the employment outlook for the career options being considered
- Consider options in the military, religion, trade schools or as an apprentice
- Get help from the High School Guidance office in evaluating your child’s career strengths and options for achieving that career
- Be prepared for the possibility that college is not the right path
- Know that about 50% of students who enroll in four-year public schools eventually dropout and will not have a degree.
It is also important to recognize that as Newsweek points out in an article titled ‘Why College Isn’t for Everyone‘ “the number of new college graduates far exceeds the growth in the number of technical, managerial, and professional jobs where graduates traditionally have gravitated. As a consequence, we have a new phenomenon: underemployed college graduates doing jobs historically performed by those with much less education. We have, for example, more than 100,000 janitors with college degrees, and 16,000 degree-holding parking lot attendants.” Necessary and possibly satisfying jobs to be sure, but will the pay be enough to cover the student loans and all the other expenses that come with being a working adult?