Have you noticed the rising problem of college debt lately?

Eric and I graduated from college many years ago, shortly after the horse and buggy fell out of fashion, but just before women won the right to vote. I believe Chester A. Arthur may have been President.

Just kidding. It was only about 17-15 years ago, depending on which one of us you’re quizzing over our educational history, and Clinton was definitely President. But in those years a lot has changed about college– mostly the price.

The kids and I spent some time at an educational Expo last week, so I’ve been in college planning mode for days. Our county now has a cooperative between the local school districts and the community college, giving our students an opportunity to dual enroll in high school and college classes. If they complete the program they leave a “5th” year of high school with an associates degree they don’t have to pay a dime for.

Not only is the degree completely free, the options are fabulous!

The kids will be able to tailor their studies to things they’re especially interested and gifted in, which is one trillion times better than slogging through some advanced math class they’ll never use again. It sounds like Kalamazoo County isn’t the only one doing this sort of Early Middle College, so check out the options where you live. It might save you $80,000,000.

Or whatever two years of college costs.

how to pay for collegeDon’t worry. We have a helpful book to the rescue.

But also, I found a book called Beating the College Debt Trap,Β by Alex Chediak, (affiliate link) in our local library this weekend. If you have tweens or teens, just go ahead and buy the book. It’s written to the prospective students, giving them loads of advice on wise educational choices. Advice like this:

What’s at stake here? Nothing less than the rest of your life. Going to college is the most expensive decision you’ve ever made. The consequences of how you pay for it will be with you into your twenties, thirties, and beyond. Will you be able to take that dream job you’d love to have but that doesn’t pay well? Buy a house someday? Get married? Start having kids? Stay home with your kids? Start a business? Leave for the mission field? Today you either set yourself up for success or failure. Freedom or bondage. Peace or stress. You decide. (from Beating the College Debt Trap, pg. 19)

These are some of the exact things we talk about in If I Plug My Ears, God Can’t Tell Me What to Do. The choices we make today affect how much room we have to follow God in the years to come. Of course a good education is vital, but it doesn’t have to come from a four year program that costs $80,000,000. We never know what God will bring to our future, so it’s always wisest to spend wisely.

(I seem to be stuck on eighty million dollars today. It’s the number of the day, I guess.)

But anyway, Chediak gives us things to think about before it’s too late. Go find his book and start talking with your kids. They’ll roll their eyes now, but thank you profusely all through their 20s and 30s.

12 Comments on College Debt: Yikes. (But here’s a good resource for us all!)

  1. David
    February 15, 2016 at 5:45 pm (2 years ago)

    Not so long ago tertiary education was free in the UK, with grants provided to most students on top. Then there seemed to be a push to put every 18-year old into University and all of a sudden a government that promised not to introduce charges reneged on their promise (and a lot of other promises). These days people are beginning to question the need/benefit of University, including our Beth who has gained far more in the last year and a half working as a volunteer with Youth for Christ gaining real hands-on experience.

  2. Jerry Dickson
    February 15, 2016 at 6:17 pm (2 years ago)

    Jessie, for goodness sake aren’t you paying attention to the political goings on? Bernie Sanders is promising a FREE college education to all kids of America. No doubt Hillary has something similar in her plans as well. Don’t waste your time investigating like you are. Just vote for BERNIE! The savior to the masses.

  3. Jessie Clemence
    February 15, 2016 at 9:01 pm (2 years ago)

    Oh, my. Yes. I totally forgot to include the plan of “waiting for a politician to save my kids’ futures.” I apologize!

  4. Jessie Clemence
    February 15, 2016 at 9:05 pm (2 years ago)

    Yes, here too! We also talked to a gentleman at the Expo who was representing the skilled trade unions. Our kids could take the aforementioned associates degree through the local schools, then do an apprenticeship through the union and get paid for their training. So many kids are going to college that the skilled trades need people to run their bulldozers and cranes and such. The guy even offered Audrey a pink hard hat if she was interested!

  5. David
    February 16, 2016 at 5:14 am (2 years ago)

    Beth doesn’t do pink. I cannot begin to imagine what might have happened to a man who offered her a pink hard hat!

  6. memyselfandkids.com
    February 16, 2016 at 9:20 am (2 years ago)

    It sounds like a great program.
    It seems early though to be worrying about it. My oldest is in 6th grade.
    The price of higher education is insane. I think the system is going to be forced to change – not sustainable.

  7. Jessie Clemence
    February 16, 2016 at 9:32 am (2 years ago)

    It is a little early, yes. I don’t want to go too far and harass my kids about adulthood when they should be enjoying what’s left of their childhood.

    But we have several friends who are caught in the college debt pit, and I see how much they struggle. It’s been on my mind a lot lately.

  8. Jessie Clemence
    February 16, 2016 at 9:33 am (2 years ago)

    Well, we had just asked him if we could add glitter and sequins to a bulldozer, so he had a reason to make the offer. πŸ™‚

  9. Andrew Gilmore
    February 16, 2016 at 1:17 pm (2 years ago)

    Thanks for the resource. My oldest will be college bound in a few short years.

    Student loan debt really is a trap. Especially if the student has no concrete career path (like becoming an MD). I will strongly threaten, I mean encourage, my kids to avoid college debt. πŸ™‚

  10. Jessie Clemence
    February 16, 2016 at 9:00 pm (2 years ago)

    True. Becky, my sister-in-law, has a brother who just finished his residency to be an orthopedic surgeon. His student loans are about triple the original cost of my house, but he’s not stressing out about the payments. πŸ™‚ He seems to have the income to back it up.

  11. lisanne3015
    February 17, 2016 at 2:51 pm (2 years ago)

    My son is about to finish his first year at The Citadel. We won’t even go into the contradiction in terms of mothering this has been for me. So far, we’ve not had student loans…my decision and my husband’s agreement with requirements, mainly because I had massive student loans years ago which only worsened an emotional downward spiral…The Citadel is known for its network for hiring and my son chose it for this purpose. I am thankful and hope the investment will be worth it all (not just $…scores of other reasons)

  12. Jessie Clemence
    February 17, 2016 at 3:25 pm (2 years ago)

    That is an excellent point– hiring networks. The older I get the more I realize jobs opportunities are a blend of hard work and knowing the right person. It makes all the difference, sometimes.