STUDENT LOAN DEBT KILLING ECONOMY FOR SOME

#StudentLoans #StudentLoanDebt #economy #college
Imagine having your dream job, after a great education, and yet be broke.
That is the case with Melissa Cefalu, a veterinarian, and her husband Andrew, a chiropractor.
You see, Melissa and Andrew are buried under $365,000 in student loan debt.
Paul Davidson highlighted their story in his USA Today article about how student loan debt is hurting the U.S. economy. It was also published in the July 7, 2017, edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Melissa and Andrew never take vacations. They may grab a long weekend with friends or relatives. Andrew drives a 13-year-old Chevy Tahoe. Instead of buying new clothes, Melissa, 35, wears her sister’s hand-me-downs, according to Davidson’s article.
The $1.34 trillion in student loan debt, a record high, is affecting the overall economy, Davidson writes. It’s causing delays in home purchases, it’s crimping consumer spending and inhibiting formation of new businesses, the article quotes analysts. He quotes others as saying the student loan debt crisis is no more than a lot of hype.
“I love what I do but … I don’t feel my degree was worth the sacrifices we have to make every single day,” the article quotes Melissa Cefalu. The couple, between them, makes $125,000 a year, and lives in affordable Madison, Miss.
Let’s break this down further. We’ve all heard about the excessive student loan debt, and the debate rages on about how to fix the problem. Should we, as a nation bail out these loans, or should we let the people who incurred the debt take their medicine – probably for a lifetime?
At the rate they are going, Melissa and Andrew will probably never be able to save for a house, let alone retirement, for a good long time. Theirs is a lesson for others thinking about whether college will be worth what they will have to do financially to get through.
And the Mississippi couple’s example shows that even if you come out of college with a decent job, doing what you had always wanted, debt can punch you in the gut for many years. Think about the graduate who comes out of college with no job, AND lots of debt.
Statistics repeatedly show that the more education one has, the better his job prospects. Still, the decision whether to go to college should not be automatic, even for the brightest of students.
There are many different ways to approach the problem. Consider these options: if a student is college material, but his family cannot afford to send him, he could work for a few years at a relatively menial job, i.e. a restaurant server, and save his money to go to college later in life. That same student could take that menial job, and take some college courses part time over a few years until he has the money to go to school full time.
Secondly, a student could consider military service for a few years, presuming he is physically able for that. The service may entitle him to college benefits after he serves his tour of duty.
Thirdly, a student may decide to look for a vehicle that will provide him enough income to eventually give him a world of educational options, without incurring a lifetime of debt. To check out one of the best such vehicles, message me.
Regardless of how you may feel about student loan debt, and how it may be affecting the economy, consider this: if a student incurs debt that would surpass a mortgage, that student will not be able to do much of anything financially for a good long time. He or she could grow old and broke, with very little help to get out of their situation.
If you don’t want to be among those folks, think long and hard about whether, and when, to go to college. College is not for everybody, and for those who are ripe for college academically, but not financially, it’s still not a decision to be made without lots of thought.
He who properly thinks through the college decision will likely see the most success as a productive adult.
Peter

HIGHER EDUCATION HAS TO CHANGE, OR ELSE …

#highereducation #college #tenure
You’ve heard many times that nothing is more constant than change.
Yet, higher education is either slow to recognize the need to change, or just refuses to.
Greg Charleston, a CPA, certified turnaround professional and senior managing director at Conway Mackenzie Inc., discussed this in a column in the Oct. 20, 2014, edition of The Atlanta Journal-
Constitution.
Charleston likens higher education’s story to that of Willy Loman, the lead character in Arthur Miller’s play, “Death of a Salesman,” a reading staple in college literature classes. Willy was slow to adapt to change, as is the current higher education model.
As Charleston points out, the availability of student loans made demand for higher education constant, despite changes in the economy. Also, parents never wavered from the belief that a good education was the key to their child’s future, and did whatever they had to do to make sure their kids went to college.
Now, as Charleston says, government funding is shrinking. Students don’t want to be saddled with debt, especially if they see that their older colleagues are graduating into a shrinking job market. What good is a great education if a student can’t parlay it into a good job, so that they can pay off that massive debt?
Also, Charleston says, more students are opting for non-traditional study – online courses – eschewing the traditional campus life many thought would be so much fun. Yet, many colleges are relying on their reputations to stay alive. One learns quickly that he cannot eat prestige for breakfast.
Charleston suggests alternatives to keep up with the times. He suggests some colleges and universities merge, or offer online alternatives. They need to find ways to scale back costs to keep it affordable to most students.
Perhaps, the really good teachers and professors will need to record their lectures and classes, to make them available universally in the academic world. Academic tenure, as is happening in the corporate and professional world, may soon be a thing of the past.
Parents also need to know their children. They need to ask, is college really right for my son or daughter? It’s OK to answer NO to that question. It won’t mean they will not have a future. In fact, there are many ways to ensure a great future for children without a college education. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You may find a great way to ensure a marvelous future without the debt and other headaches of getting a child through college.
Those students taking on college may also find a great Plan B, in case their careers after college get off to a slow start.
Higher education, like other facets of life, has to adapt to a changing world. It has to realize that dollars are limited, that there are other ways to get educated and that it may not be a universal path to a great future for young people.
It’s nice to have a great aura or reputation about you. But it’s better to keep one’s doors open.
It’s nice to have a faculty position that will never go away, as long as you want it. But if the whole institution disappears, that position can’t help but go away.
So, to all students, pursue your dreams as you see fit. Study what you must to get to those dreams. But keep in mind that there is more than one route to those dreams. Find the route that fits you best.
Peter

COLLEGE PREP: LESS RIGOR, MORE FREEDOM

Many look back fondly to their high school days.
Perhaps their college days were even better.
But Stan Beiner, head of the Epstein School in Sandy Springs, Ga., just outside Atlanta, believes we are turning our middle school students over to high schools who will prepare them for colleges that don’t exist.
They’ll get lots and lots of homework. They’ll take lots of Advanced Placement and honors classes. They will have multiple extracurricular activities.
In other words, to paraphrase Beiner, we are preparing our kids for the “rigors” and “challenges” of a tough four years of college.
If you have gone to college, how did it compare with high school? Were you faced with tough task-master professors beating you up, and bogging you down with the drudgery of academia?
Beiner does not de-emphasize school work. Contrarily, school work should be an integral part of both high school and college. But neither high school nor college should be a mere endurance test. Both should teach students the balance of school work, a part-time job, extracurricular activities and, yes, fun!
“The high school years should be about friends, sports, clubs, youth groups, summers off and, of course, school work,” Beiner says. He uses the story of how he and his wife were informed by his child’s private school that 10th-graders could be invited to college orientations. The parents politely declined. The only expectations they had for their 15-year-old was that she focus on her classes, play sports if she wanted, engage and debate youth group politics, hang out with her friends and worry about boys, he said.
Before anyone expresses outrage at what may seem to him as a lackadaisical attitude of parenting, think about this: when you left high school for college, you were on your own. You had a looser schedule. In some cases, you could set your own schedule. You could, say, arrange your classes to have every Friday or Monday off. In most cases, as long as you did the work, the teachers didn’t care how you did it, as long as you didn’t cheat.
In an old school of thought, piling homework on high school kids was a way to keep them “out of trouble.” There was little worse, in some minds, than a teenager with too much time on his hands.
The fallacy of that argument is that no amount of homework would put the kids most at risk of getting in trouble on the straight and narrow. They simply would blow it off. Meanwhile, bogging down good kids with homework, particularly the kind that is deliberately designed to be tedious and time-consuming, keeps them from getting into activities that would enhance their education and experience – sports, arts or a part-time job, for instance.
They may also miss out on the fun that is an integral part of growing up. They may soon grow resentful of the “prison” they are in. They may “act out” in response.
Beiner’s ideas may be over the top for some. But his point is that college is NOTHING like high school. Anyone who has gone to college knows this. Also, just as important as school work, a student needs to have freedom to learn to manage and use time wisely. This will also help students manage money better – watching what they spend and how they spend it – on their own. The good students will mature more quickly. Those at risk for trouble may find it sooner.
Speaking of managing time, is anyone out there working full time at a job, and looking to build a fortune that could retire them early? If so, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. A few hours a week, without affecting what you are already doing, may change your life.
Beiner says it’s no wonder that cheating, eating disorders and depression are too common among students. He advises parents to make sure kids have time to do what they want, and find out who they are. With today’s gadgets, you need to encourage them to get up from the computer and go out and “play.” Do what they need to do, but also do what they LOVE to do.
In Beiner’s mind, they’ll be much more prepared for college.
Peter

CLASS OF 2013: FEAR THE DEBT REAPER

It’s early, but Kyle Wingfield, columnist with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, thinks it’s time to address graduates.
His October 2012 column suggests that graduates – mainly high school graduates – think about their options before going to college.
Wingfield suggests that they not end up like Katie Brotherton, a young Cincinnati woman who is $190,000 in debt from college and graduate school. She’s living in her parents’ basement.
Brotherton is “looking for answers.” As Wingfield points out, it started with her decision to go to college with borrowed money.
You can envision a pattern: a person goes to college, thinking she would get a good job when she got out. She doesn’t. So, she decides to go to graduate school, thinking it might broaden her qualifications and buy her time for the job market to improve. Meanwhile, she’s incurring more debt.
She gets out of graduate school with no good job and lots of debt. She moves back home. She doesn’t want to be living at home, but she has no choice. Her debt and lack of employment leave her unable to afford to live on her own. Her parents sympathize with her plight, but they, too, would rather see her out on her own.
A few decades ago, we were told to go to the best college we could possibly get into. The best schools would open more doors, we were told. The best schools, often, were usually the most expensive. But if those schools opened more doors, you’d be able to pay back your education fairly quickly with a good job.
Many of the “good” jobs that students thought would be there are not. In fact, they may have disappeared permanently.
As Wingfield points out, education inflation is rampant. There could even be an education “bubble” getting bigger by the day. We all know what happened with the housing “bubble.” It’s not that students should not get an education, it’s that some education does not provide a great return on investment, in terms of career opportunities.
Certainly, there is nothing wrong with getting a degree in history, literature or some of the other liberal arts. No education is really wasted. But students have to evaluate whether that education is worth the debt incurred, or, worth the sacrifices your family might make to provide it.
ARTS, HISTORY MAJORS: YOU HAVE OPTIONS
If you love history, the arts or psychology, you can still pursue them. But you can do so at less expensive schools close to home. You may be able to parlay those degrees into a good career, but you have to understand that most people with such backgrounds cannot convert them to real dollars.
All is not lost, however. You can get one of those degrees without using it as an income producer. There are many excellent ways to produce income outside your educational background. To check out one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau.
Even if you have a degree in engineering, the sciences, technology, mathematics or other fields in great demand, you might want to have a Plan B if your career plans don’t turn out the way you want them to. There are excellent income streams that can get you out of your parents’ home as an adult.
So, as Wingfield addresses the class of 2013, he suggests that they not lower ambitions, just understand the reality. Not all college degrees are the same. Most college degrees can be obtained from schools that are not cripplingly expensive. Remember that as you get older and proceed in your career, or life, where you went to school becomes less important in terms of whether you get hired. A degree is a degree. You will succeed largely on your experience.
Success comes in many forms. Being a great historian may not produce lots of income, but it may produce great successes. Just realize that you may have to find another way to make a living, or create wealth for yourself.
Educational institutions need to be aware of the “bubble.” It could burst, and they could find themselves with great, expensive programs, and no students that can afford them. Students need to be aware that there are ways to make an income regardless of education. You just have to be willing to check them out.
Peter