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Student loan debt run amok

Created: On August 24, 2011 @ 4:26 pm In

Student loan debt in America has ballooned by more than 511 percent since 1999 to about $930 billion, and that has many people sounding alarms about that debt potentially causing another bubble. During that same period, all other household debt rose 100 percent; that includes credit card debt, autos and mortgages.

Debt affects economy

A Fox News article quoted Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of financial aid Web site Finaid, as saying, “Student loan debt has become a macroeconomic factor; it affects the economy. Students who graduate with excessive debt are more likely to delay buying a car, buying a house, getting married, having children, saving for their retirement….They’re spending less because they first have to tackle their student loan debt.”

Because so many students are graduating with limited job prospects, there is a growing fear that even more people won’t be able to repay student loan debt if the economy continues to stumble. Because more people are defaulting on loans, some schools are even offering debt counseling and budgeting sessions before students can begin attending, like the program at Tidewater Community College.

Debt reduction plan

It’s a good idea to have a student loan debt reduction plan in place before even enrolling in college. While many students and parents choose schools based strictly upon the prestige of an institution, it isn’t necessary to attend the most elite or expensive colleges to get a good education. There are many successful people who attended less expensive state schools and community colleges without running up unmanageable student loan tabs.

When applying to colleges, do research on what people in your intended major do after graduation. You can get a good idea of how much income you might earn upon graduating by looking at career and salary Web sites. If you major in a field such computers or engineering, it’s likely that you will earn a higher salary upon graduating than someone majoring in the fine arts or humanities. Equip yourself with as much information as possible before even leaving college so you’ll have realistic expectations about dealing with student loan debt.

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