Paying for College

Dealing with Student Loans

Families in the “full pay" for college category are in the minority. As we've discussed before here, there are a number of ways to find out how much your family will have to pay for your college education. The FAFSA, CSS Profile, and college-specific financial aid forms are all intended to assess a family's ability to pay for a specific college. There are also the Net Price Calculators that can give a pretty accurate ballpark of this amount without having to go through the formalities of the official aid forms.

Most students (and families), including some among the full-pay category, will have to deal with student loans. If you are a regular reader of my posts here, you know that I have beaten the drum about student loan debt quite loudly. Because of the sky-high (and ever-rising) cost of higher education these days, borrowing money, either by college students alone and/or through the co-signing of family members, has become the unfortunate norm. In many cases, students graduating from college, with undergraduate, graduate, or professional degrees, face a lifetime of debt due to the fact that their loan balances exceed their ability to pay them off during a reasonable length of time.

“Necessary evil" would be a fair term to refer to student loans. They are a two-edged sword. On the one hand, they enable students to acquire college-degree credentials, for what that's worth in today's job market. On the other hand, the relative ease with which loans are available enable students to get fast cash to initiate or continue their higher education goals. Of course, there's no such thing as a free lunch, and students who have borrowed money for college must pay it back, or their families must pay it back if the student does not have the adequate resources to do so.

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