By: Ken Austin
Student loans are both a blessing and a curse to college students all across the country. On one hand, student loans allow you to have the money you need in many cases to attend college at all.
On the other hand, most college students, particularly those entering college for the first time have inflated opinions of their starting salaries upon graduation and the bills they will face while living in the real world. In fact, most freshmen college students have no real concept of the limits of money in which to base their decisions as to whether or not they can realistically expect to repay those funds once they've graduated college.
The sad truth is that many college graduates find that for the first 10-15 years after they have graduated college, they are essentially indentured servants to their student loan debts. There are many reasons for this and different college graduates will find different things about their student loans when the appropriate time comes.
First of all, those taking out student loans need to understand that a college degree does not guarantee a high starting salary. Beyond that, a college degree is no guarantee that there will be employers lining up to take your name and number upon graduation. The truth is that most college grads take anywhere from 6 months to a year to find a job in their fields and even then the starting salaries are often far less than anticipated.
Part of the blame for over-inflated expectations is the fault of universities attempting to validate their high tuition rates by displaying average starting salaries of only those that have successful offers in the field of study immediately upon graduation (which usually indicates a history of working with the company or another company as an intern prior to being hired) and not those students who have no prior work experience in their chosen fields.
Part of the expectations is students reading job advertisements for experienced workers in a field and assuming that an education will provide the experience that employers require. Regardless of the reason, most starting salary expectations are not realistic in light of the current market.
The problem is that for many students a student loan is the difference in receiving a college education or not receiving one. For these students, there is no option. The price they will pay (with interest) for having student loans in order to get through the educational process will repay itself over the course of a lifetime if they are wise about making the necessary payments and stay on top of things such as consolidation loans and making payments on time.
Student loans are a great tool for those who have no other options when it comes to attending and affording to attend a university. On the other hand, for those who do not have an absolute need for the funds a student loan can provide they can prove to be problematic when trying to establish your career and your lifestyle upon graduation. This is a tool for education that should be used sparingly at best.
Whether or not you choose to take out student loans in order to fund your college education it is a good idea if you exhaust all other available resources first. Check out your options for grants, scholarships, and work-study programs before leaping into student loans to pay for your education.