Student loans outstanding now exceed $1 trillion. And much of that money is owed by people who didn't graduate from collge. Other substantial sums are owed by people who can't get jobs that pay sufficiently high salaries to repay the student loans in a timely fashion.
Yet we encourage everybody to enroll in college and assume loans for doing so. Here are some facts to consider.
Only Half of First-Time College Students Graduate in 6 Years tells the story of college graduation rates:
"As we’ve covered here many times before, there is an abundance of evidence showing that going to college is worth it. But that’s really only true if you go to college and then graduate, and the United States is doing a terrible job of helping enrolled college students complete their educations.
A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center digs deeper into these graduation rates. It finds that of the 1.9 million students enrolled for the first time in all degree-granting institutions in fall 2006, just over half of them (54.1 percent) had graduated within six years. Another 16.1 percent were still enrolled in some sort of postsecondary program after six years, and 29.8 percent had dropped out altogether.
As you can see, many of the students who ultimately graduated did so at a different institution than the one where they had originally enrolled. Of the whole cohort of 2006 matriculants, 42 percent graduated where they had first enrolled, and another 9.1 percent graduated from a place to which they had transferred. . . .
The report also looked at the state-level completion rates for students who are “traditional” (that is, age 24 and younger) versus “nontraditional” or “adult” (over age 24).
Not surprisingly, in almost every state, traditional-age students starting at public four-year schools had higher completion rates than nontraditional-age students. . . .
For more on this release, check out the Chronicle of Higher Education’s neat interactive visualization of the study."
The most important decision we make about college is whether we're prepared to enroll, do the required academic work, graduate in a timely manner and be prepared to take a job which will prove to have been worth the years of effort involved in attending and graduating from college.
And if we do decide to go to college, whether we are going to get the most bang for the buck both by taking a low cost approach to getting a degree which will provide us with a good opportunity to secure a high paying job in the career of our choice.
It's all about OUR return on OUR investment. Our investment of both time and money and our return on that combined investment of our time and money.
Not the college's investment of time and not the borrowed money provided by a lender.
That's my take.