With two of three children already in college and a third possible entering in three years, avoiding student debt has been a topic of conversation in our house for some time now.
We have talked to our three children about making an educated decision from the beginning. Looking at the complete picture of a higher education choice, including what a career in their chosen field might look like when they graduate, factoring the potential job market and salary.
If they work backward like this, it’s easier to make better choice upfront and understand the total return on investment (ROI) of their college degree.
Considering in our home state of New York 59% of College Graduates have debt, with their average debt totals over $29K after earning a degree, its clear more conversation on the topic need to happen.
It’s no secret across our country there is a lack of formal, mandatory financial education. Recent studies show our proficiency with money is not improving. That why I’m trying to do a small part locally.
Just last week with a partnership with a local community coalition we presented “Avoiding Student Debt.” A 90-minute presentation held at a local library for both students and parents.
Avoiding Student Debt Presentation
There were thirty or so people in attendance for the presentation. I hosted the event and opened with a brief introduction, we then viewed the documentary “Broke, Busted, and Disgusted,” and closed with a speaker from a local University.
The audience was a mixed group of almost all parents with some children currently in college or approaching college in the next few years. There was one woman who was under the impression that there was a secret to attending college for free with no work on her or students part, and we were going to give her that information during the presentation.
I wish there were, but instead, we stuck to sound advice and resources to be the guide, for this evening.
Steps to Avoid Student Debt
I shared some tips in my introduction as well in some handouts. I focused on some numbers within our State. The average starting salary for 2017 college graduate is $49,785. That’s $1,915. Bi-weekly before tax deductions. After taxes that $1,436 or $2,872 a month. Now factor in your Student Loan Debt payment each month and what will you have left to spend on other things.
- Have a plan
- What’s the Return on Investment of your degree? (ROI)
- What’s your career path look like?
- Salary and jobs when you graduate?
- Students and parents need to communicate on what the family can and can’t afford.
- AP or College credit class while in High School
- College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
- Reduce overall cost before you even attend college.
- Review best option to obtain your degree.
- Do you even need a degree for your chosen career choice?
- Can you save money by attending a community college or staying local for the first two years?
- Look at all funding options
- Scholarships (begin applying as early as a high school freshman and continue all the way through as a senior in college)
- Work Study programs – (Earn and Learn – UPS offer up to $25,000 for tuition if you work for them)
- Work while in college
- Become an RA to reduce Room and Board cost
- Trade/Technical Schools
- Begin researching your options ASAP
Scholly App – Smartphone and web-based app that allows you to search for scholarships.
FastWeb – Scholarship and college resource website.
College Board – Provides resources, tools, and services to students, parents, colleges, and universities in the areas of college planning, recruitment and admissions, financial aid, and retention
PayScale – Salary and Career website
Glassdoor – Career resource including company and salary reviews.
Nitro – Student Debt and loan tool, that lets you determine your ability to pay off a college loan based on the college and major you choose.
All of the above information, as well as additional resources, were included in my handouts for the audience. I collected emails as well to share soft copies of all documents so accessing the links provided would be easier too.
Overall the information was well received. Hearing first-hand accounts of my own experience with two freshmen in college and the stories outline in “Broke, Busted, and Disgusted,” was eye-opening for some. I’m hopeful those in attendance learn something. We plan on hosting additional presentations like this in the future.
What resources or tips would you include for those looking to avoid student debt?