Ruth Hayden on paying for college

The Daily Circuit live chat for March 2, 2012

  • I come from an upper middle class family. I went to Scripps College (one of the Claremont Colleges in CA). Tuition, room & board was about $30,000/year. Privates have more money to give and Scripps does an excellent job w/need-based grants. I received a $100,000 education and left with only $12,000 in loans.
  • I knew how much I would have to pay each month. But that amount of money meant nothing to me as an 18-year-old just out of my parents' house.

    How could I have known how much $600 a month would or wouldn't go back then? Or how it would have affected my finances 20 years hence?
    by Jen edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:46:20 PM
  • what about the people who attend college and don't get the degree and yet accrue all the debt. that is my situation and I foresee paying for the rest of my life.
  • We have two small kids and we are paying so much for daycare that college is beginning to look affordable.

    Honestly, between daycare, retirement and college there's nothing left over to enjoy.
    by Yesenia Anderson edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:46:45 PM
  • I chose a college without considering the reputation of the school, the network I would develop and the likelihood that college would rise in rank throughout the years.

    I would not pick an investment in these ways.

    I did not think of my college as an investment.

    I had a great time but in retrospect I should have chosen the school that would continue to support my development through active alumni groups, professional development resources and so forth.
    by Anne edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:47:03 PM
  • I got a 1 year certificate that got me an entry level job, now the company I work for has a college reimbursement program up to 5700 dollars a year, now i can work and go part time for little to no debt.
  • The big issue here is expecting 17 year olds to know how the rest of their lives is going to play out and exactly what they want to major in.

    Going to college is expensive and worth it, once you know what you're doing. If I could go back I would complete my generals at a community college, then finish my undergraduate degree at a university with a degree i know I can use.

    I worked 3 jobs throughout college and I value my education immensely but the burden of $700/month is too much. I love what I do but there needs to be a way of educating teens and young adults about finances so we take this recession seriously and it doesn't happen again in another 25 years.
    by Jennifer edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:47:35 PM
  • At 18 years old when I fell in love with my private undergraduate college, I didn't understand why my parents were so concerned about the price tag.

    Even after college when I secured a great job and was able to make those payments, it didn't occur to me how onerous this debt is. It is only now that I'm in law school and will have substantially more debt on top of my undergraduate debt that I am becoming very concerned about my financial solvency post graduate school.
    by spraska edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:47:48 PM
  • Luckily, my son picked a NDSU, which is very affordable (about $15k/year for everything).

    We have saved some money, but are holding onto that for the year that we have two kids in college. It works out that we have to put aside about $600 a paycheck to keep up.

    We paid off our cars and refininanced our mortgage at a lower rate for 30 years to improve cash flow. Also, now our older son is an Resident Assistant, which cuts the bill by about $4k per year and he gets paid $200 every two weeks. So far it's working.
    by Brad edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:48:10 PM
  • My wife's student debt has been locked at 1.75% for 27.5 years via sallie mae in 2005.

    She borrowed $40,000 at age 23 to get 1 year of MBA, then joined an employer Target who paid for the second year. What a great long term investment to have this education debt at ridiculously low rates!!
    by Matt edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:48:27 PM
  • I have friends with parents who paid for everything. They have no idea how lucky they are. Perfect example of how the rich get richer.
  • You can not absolve the average student of the responsibility for their loans.

    If they don't have the wherewithal to research what they are getting into they probably shouldn't have them in the first place.

    I graduated a little over a year ago and before my loans came do, I knew what I would owe and what my options were and I budgeted accordingly.
    by Ryan edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:48:40 PM
  • My son graduated debt free from St. John's University through merit scholarships and the ROTC program.

    His wife has student debt they cannot pay because of their frequent moves and 26% military spouse unemployment, the only jobs she can find pay near minimum wage and yet she has both a bachelors and masters degree.
    by Kathleen edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:48:54 PM
  • There is federal loan forgivness programs if you work in public service for 10 years. You have to be on a certain loan repayment plan to qualify, but that program is available for those of us who have large loan amounts and are working for a non-profit or for the government.
  • @Keith That's awesome Keith. And your employer deserves a lot of credit for offering this program.
  • I think people overrate the importance of the school for a four year degree. One degree is pretty much as useful as another. Where this makes more of a difference is in graduate school.
  • I went to a small private school in St. Paul. It is one of the most expensive schools in MN, and yet because of its generous grants, the loans I took out (not my parents didn't pay a dime, would have been the same if I went the U of MN.

    Fabulous education and opportunities, and just as importantly, amazing students- wouldn't have changed a thing! My two year grad school education at the U of MN cost the same as my 4 year degree and I have some regret about that.
    by Sophia edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:49:31 PM
  • How do high school students even make an informed choice about what career they are best suited for?

    I wish there was more attention paid to this in high school because I ended up paying a lot of money for a graduate degree and found my personality was not suited for that field.
    by lmt edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:49:46 PM
  • My parents paid for my tuition but I paid for my living expenses for college, then both for law school (1 yr at nite while working days).

    My father was a contractor and when things were tight we (older brother & I) worked the jobs he could get and weren't paid, as we got an allowance, housing food etc.
    by ray edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:49:59 PM
  • Ruth, could you discuss the new loan consolidation plan President Obama recently enacted? What are the benefits of it? The drawbacks? And can one still apply for IBR while on it?
  • I am a high school Senior and my parents were very clear from the start that I would be on my own as far as paying for college.

    Consequently, I worked hard to get good grades because I knew the only way I would be able to attend a good/expensive school would be to get tons of scholarships.

    By telling me from the beginning that the cost of college would be on me, my parents gave me a concrete reason to work hard and get good grades, and take Advanced Placement and College classes during high school to bring the cost down as far as possible.
    by Kaija edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:50:16 PM
  • What do you make of the increasing need to graduate from the highest-ranked or most prestigious school, particularly in expensive professional degrees? For example, if you go to a cheap law school, you get what you pay for in terms of future earning capacity.
  • Wow- the brainwashing by the post-secondary education complex continues: enslave yourselves to un-dischargeable debt, but you'll have a great time partying and studying useless subjects. There is a way out, though: move to another country and default beyond the reach of the US court systems.
  • Why are private parties allowed to influence college classrooms? I have seen more corporate influence than ever before. College has become
    a new platform for companies to influence government!
  • Enough with depressing talk about debt and jobs. You need to do a show about kittens!
  • My wife is currently getting her Masters degree in nursing. We also have a 7 year old, so we started saving for her education two years ago. My wife qualified for a William Ford Unsubsidizied Federal Loan for her 2 year program. We will be paying at least the interest on the loan as we go, so we do not suffer the compounding effect of interest on interest.
  • its all about employment to justify the debt. The job market is so depressed that borrowing anything at all is risky
  • If people cannot afford $500 to $700 per month, how can they afford to purchase a car? What kind of salaries are they making? What else are they spending their money for?
  • Why has no one mentioned military service?

    I took out a mountain of loans to earn my degree from St. Thomas, joined the army and got them paid off! I wish I would have known that I could have joined the National Guard during my junior year of high school, recieved 100% tuition assistance for a part time job, and been done with my contract by the time I graduated from college.
    by Dan edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:55:41 PM
  • Ruth, do students have a better chance of qualifying for FAFSA loans if the parents are divorced?

    From Ruth: They can take one parents income, whichever is the lowest. So, yes.
    by Kathy edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:56:24 PM
  • Apart from the need to make good choices about financing one's education, isn't there a hidden issue that tuition at state colleges and universities has gone up partly because parts of the public and certain politicians have blocked keeping taxes that support the schools in step with increasing costs. Twenty-five years ago certain grad school credit hours at the U of M cost about $120.

    Today they are two or three times that.

    Today I couldn't even consider the grad study I did relatively easily back then. Which is better: paying slightly higher taxes now or having the economy of the future stunted because today's debt-burdened new college grads can afford a fraction of what their parents did?

    From Ruth: Public schools are going up faster than private schools. Private: 4 1/2%. Public: 8%. Full inflation: 3.6%
    by John edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:58:04 PM
  • Get your undergraduate degree by attending Junior College and transferring to a 4 year State school. You'll save tons of cash and then you can go to the graduate school of your dreams.

    Ruth adds: And they have made the transferring of credits easier. The U really wants well-qualified juniors and seniors. It is a smooth process now.
    by Jim edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 4:58:13 PM
  • My parents paid for my tuition but I paid for my living expenses for college, then both for law school (1 yr at nite while working days).

    My father was a contractor and when things were tight we (older brother & I) worked the jobs he could get and weren't paid, as we got an allowance, housing food etc. I slept in the room next to my parents office so I was pulled in to check on his work. By the time I got out of high school I knew not only how to do bids with planning for all materials, but also how double entry book keeping systems worked and the need to track materials and save for future loses.
  • Re: the large amount of college debt in MN. As the supervisor of the tech lab of the largest shelter in the five state area, I became aware of the incessant phone calls from private college to our homeless clients.

    These calls promised as much as an $80,000 award to the client who saw this as a chance for a home, a car and a safety net.

    When examined the private colleges calling had a high default rate, low graduation rate and high costs. Many of these clients were not prepared for the rigor of college and defraulted leaving the taxpayers to pay their debt. It was predatory and abusive recruitment.
    by Dee Ann Christensen edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 5:03:21 PM
  • Kids and parents need to understand that colleges are businesses just like any other.

    Just like the housing industry, cheap loans made college accessible to everyone and everyone bit without giving notice to interest rates or long term debt. This is one reason that tuition has ballooned. Colleges charge what they think they can get away with and loans were easy to come by.
    by Izzy from Stillwater edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 5:03:29 PM
  • Many of our MN private liberal arts colleges promote themselves as encouraging "global citizenship." Many majors are focused on service professions. As a Macalester graduate and retired social worker, I'm in favor of this, but I'm wondering how schools like Macalester balance high tuition with potentially low-paying professions. I would love to hear a future show with a panel of local college presidents addressing this. Do students have to be economics majors with an eye toward an MBA in order to pay for their education?
  • Between scholarships, fellowships, assistantships and other work I was always in the black and never had any loans from my BA to MA and PhD studies.

    If people don't like the costs, they shouldn't pay them.

    Students' willingness to take loans just made the colleges raise their prices, and they will continue to do this. As for the employers responding to the glut of educated workers in some fields by offering terribly low compensation, it's the same thing: refuse to take it.

    This would make a much more worthy movement than the "99%" The educated 70-80% middle class needs to quit taking ripoffs from colleges, corporations and government. Working for free, volunteering, internships etc. ARE NOT SOLUTIONS to unemployment or poorly compensated employment. I'm fed up with hearing that. Professional labor needs to fight back for itself.
    by Dan edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 5:04:10 PM
  • I graduated with 25 thousand in debt last June, and now work as a full-time volunteer for a $100 a month stipend.

    The thing that's saving me is the income-based-repayment plan on my federal loans; this program only makes you pay a percentage of your 'disposable income' and since the government knows I don't make any money at all, I don't have to pay a thing until I get a job that pays.

    If I continue working for non-profits or other public service jobs for the next 10 years, they'll cancel all of my debt!

    I'm so grateful that the government recognizes my situation: because of my liberal arts education, I learned that what I WANT to do is service-oriented work that doesn't pay. Because of income-based-repayment, I'm able to keep giving back, even with a pretty hefty debt.
    by Bethany Ringdal edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 5:05:06 PM
  • I received lots of student loan counseling throughout my several degrees, and each time signed all the documents and understood fully how much debt I was getting into.

    I can only blame my own rose-colored outlook.

    Regardless of the fact that I was a music major and knew intellectually how little I would likely be making, I still pictured myself living a rather comfortable lifestyle, which I would almost certainly NOT be living if I had not changed career paths.

    I just don't know that 18-year-olds entering college (or even those in their mid-20s entering graduate school) who have never supported fully themselves and don't have real-world financial experience can truly understand what they're getting themselves into.
    by Singer edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 5:05:51 PM
  • I am 23 years old, went to a technical college and got two degrees. Then went straight to Metro state to get my 4 year degree.

    I hold 20,000 in student debt and am in a position to pay it all off in 18 months. I would be doing this if it was not more important to me to save up an emergency fund.

    The young people in the country who want to party in college and study what interests them without any regard for how marketable they are to employers deserve to reap from the poor planning they engaged in.

    I worked through college in related fields in order to prove my dedication and earn the job I currently have. Its time to grow up and plan for yourself kids...
    by Ariel edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News 3/2/2012 5:06:56 PM
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