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Is College Still Cost-Effective?

News-record.com has a great human interest story on how young, college-educated adults are fairing in the current recession.  As you may have guessed, the answer is, not great.  The article talks about people graduating college and not being able to find a job, getting laid-off, and putting off purchasing homes and cars because of the economy.  And one story in particular touches on the problem of student loans: 

Ash Jones is idling at one of life’s intersections.

On the one hand, he’d love to study law.

“I’m very analytical,” said the Greensboro College senior. “I love researching and reading. That definitely gives me some desire to go toward a law-oriented job.”

What he doesn’t want is the crush of student loan repayments that could come after graduate school. He’s living on loans now and is worried about paying off those debts.

He’s not even sure how much he owes.

“I haven’t looked at the figure in a year,” Jones said. “I’m scared to do so. I’m not sure if I want to look at it and the interest on it all.”

On the other hand, he could get a job. If he can find one.

“The way I looked at it when I got into school was that a college degree equaled a good job,” Jones said. “The economy has changed so much in the five years that I have a different perspective right now. Having a college degree doesn’t  necessarily mean getting a good job anymore.”

As this article indicates, many people are no longer seeing an economic return on their investment in college education.  Of course, we can wait and hope for the economy to improve, but, in the meantime, how many people will our economy lose due to lack of affordability.  Nearly everybody hurts when the economy hurts, but the real problem with this particular situation is that there are so few good alternatives, other than taking out large amounts of loans, for funding college, and if students stop seeing a return on that investment, they’re simply not going to go.  And that could have major ramifications in the workforce when, and if, the economy recovers.

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  1. December 15, 2008 at 4:58 am

    Students who realize that they cannot afford to pay back huge amounts of loans will gravitate towards fields in which loan forgiveness is possible. Most states have loan forgiveness programs for needed occupations (even law).

    state college loans

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