Student Loans: Blessing or Curse?

Are student loans a blessing or a curse for first-year college students? The answer is that they can be both…

On one hand, they are a blessing because they allow students to have the money needed to even be able to afford college in the first place.

On the other hand, it is virtually impossible for a college student to estimate what their starting salary will be after graduation in order to gauge whether or not they will even be able to realistically repay those funds once they’ve graduated from college.

The sad reality is that for most college graduates, student loan debt will be a part of their lives for the next 10-15 years after they’ve graduated.

What You Should Know…

For those students who plan to take out loans, there are a few things that you should know.  First, a college degree does not guarantee that there will be employers lining up to offer you a job after graduation. Second, if you are able to find a job right after graduation, this does not guarantee that you will receive a high starting salary.

The truth is that it takes most college students an average of 6 months to a year to find a job in their field after graduation and starting salaries are typically far less than what they expected.

Don’t Get Tricked….

Students have unrealistic expectations of average starting salaries for new college graduates for a few different reasons.  This mindset can partially be blamed on universities who try to justify their high tuition rates by displaying average starting salaries for a select set of professions.  What they forget to tell you is that those students typically worked for the company as an intern prior to being hired.

Students also get tricked from reading various job advertisements from companies who are seeking experienced workers in a particular field and mistakenly assume that an education will replace the experience that these employers are looking for.

Bottom line, most students’ starting salary expectations are not realistic in light of the current job market conditions.

The Good News

For many students, a student loan is the difference between attending college and not attending college.  So for these students, taking out college loans is absolutely necessary.

However, the good news is that the price they will pay (with interest) for having student loans, will repay itself over the course of their lifetime if they are wise about staying on top of things.  This includes taking advantage of loan consolidation programs and making payments on time.

Student Loans Should Be Last Resort

Let’s face it…student loans are a great tool for those who have no other options when it comes to affording college.  However, student loans should always be a last resort.  If you do not absolutely need to take out a student loan, DON’T.

Unnecessary debt can prove to be problematic for college graduates when trying to establish their careers and lifestyle after graduation.  Student loans are a tool for receiving an education and should only be used for educational purposes.

Final Thoughts

Every student will have to individually evaluate their financial situation to determine whether or not it makes sense to take out a student loan to fund their education.

Either way, it is a good idea to exhaust all other available resources beforehand.  Check out your options for grants, scholarships, and work-study programs before taking out student loans to pay for your education.

Good Luck!

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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