Here's a good comment left on my post titled Stuck about taking on (and dealing with) substantial college debt:
I just want to comment on the education debt that Sarah and Jesse brought up. For those who are already in that situation, well, yes, I suppose that's one case where both parents would have to work. No argument there.
But for those who are at an earlier stage of their lives, there's a lesson to take from this. To take on that much debt is to make the choice to work--possibly for decades--after school to pay it back no matter what else might come up in your life that would otherwise be more important to you. Now, that's not to say don't get an education, or even to say don't go into debt to get it if that's what you have to do. But do choose your major wisely and think twice about picking that fancy private school. This is particularly true for people whose inclinations lead them to fields that are not reliably well compensated, like the arts or politics to name just a couple.
Sometimes it seems to me that people have lost their minds when it comes to education costs, in much the same way as people who drop 20 grand and up on their weddings.
This is in agreement with what I've written in posts like How to Get the Most Financially Out of College and Go to Law School Without Racking Up Tons of Debt (this isn't just for readers thinking about law school.) In particular, here's what I said on the latter post:
"The point is that you need to look at a college degree (including a law school degree) as an investment. What will it cost and what will you get out of it? Look at the best way to maximize this investment, and you'll be able to find a school that meets your needs and won't leave you in a ton of debt relative to your income. Ignore these factors and select a school based on considerations like campus feel, nearness to home, the popularity of the football team, one great professor, and so on, and you may be setting yourself up for a bad financial decision."
To me, college debt can be "good debt" as long as it's kept under control. And the main way to keep it under control is to compare it to what you'll be earning once you graduate. For instance, consider the following:
- A teacher who will make $30,000 per year who leaves college with $30,000 in debt.
- An engineer who will make $70,000 per year who leaves college with $30,000 in debt.
Any question about who is in better shape to deal with their college debt?