Yesterday I paid off my last student loan. It took nearly 16 years to do so, a stretch of time that, frankly, is embarrassing. I financed my college education completely on my own; my parents held to the belief (in the mid-90s) that one could still pay their way through college. You couldn’t, there wasn’t even a chance of that happening.
My college education was financed on the backs of loans, a single grant for 2 semesters, and credit cards. I have paid off the loans. 16 years after the fact, I still have 2 credit cards within striking distance of being paid off (read: less than 5 figures).
I will not claim I was (or am) the best manager of my own money, but the cost of simply attending college set my finances back a decade. The real estate crash simply pounded the lid closed on my financial coffin in the late 2000s. We are working to dig out now, but we are purposely struggling.
There is a movement to reform college financing, something I completely support. I can’t imagine the pressures of graduating today with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. For now, I’m a few hundred dollars closer to being in the black; budget projections here show that is years away, though.
Openly questioning the value of a degree is a smart first step. Evaluating the value to yourself is just as important. Either way, this country needs to have a frank discussion about education, K through PhD. I hope we have it soon.