Graduates-300x259Three words that nauseate the stomachs of most people:

Student Loan Debt.

While the college experience was great and ultimately a degree was conferred at the end, was the cost of the student loan debt all worth it?

First, there are many ways to look at this question. There are the tangible rewards that a college degree can provide by way of knowledge which leads to a higher income and then there are the intangibles that are more difficult to put a price tag on. For instance, I met my husband while in college. Can a price tag be put on something like that? What are the odds that I still would have met him and yet did not need to borrow $28,000 in order to do so? Also in college, I discovered and developed my people and leadership skills by serving in different organizations, by being an RA (Resident Adviser) and by just surviving without mom and dad–although-it-was-difficult-and-I-love-them-very-much-in-case-they-are-reading-this-post.

Some interesting findings were published this month from a Pew Research Report on Student Debt. Check out the entire report here but two findings resonate with me because they are true in my experience and for so many people that I know.

1. College-educated households with student loans to repay have a lower net worth than those with no student debt.

Young college-educated households with no student debt have the highest net worth by far. They have about seven times the net worth of households with student debt.
Chart 1

2. Young households with student debt are much more likely to have car loans and credit card debt, too.

And their typical total indebtedness (including mortgage debt, vehicle debt, credit cards, as well as student debt) is almost twice the overall debt load of similar households with no student debt.
Chart 2

I clearly see now how one thing can easily lead to another. Unless there is a major correction in your awareness and behavior, then the pattern of borrow, borrow and borrow continues. Once you’re in debt, what’s another $22,000 for a car, and another $10,000 in credit cards? The fallacy that we so easily believe is that we can manage debt and save and invest. Clearly by the results of this report that is simply not true. College graduates without student loan debt have seven times the net worth (assets minus liabilities) than graduates with student debt.

So here is what I know for sure:
  1. Get out of debt and stay out of debt
  2. Debt robs your present and your future
  3. There is an alternative to debt–find it.
  4. Continue to teach others that student loans should be avoided at all costs.

Thankfully my student loans are paid off and from my post in 2013 my disdain for debt is just as strong now as it was then. I hope and pray that you realize the limitations of debt and that you are aligning your habits to avoid it at all costs.

On the Winning Team,