*17 Things to Consider About a $$$ University Education

This originally came from a post called “The Frosh Fifteen (thousand dollars)“, but it needed to be here too:

Re-think the expense of education

1. Do you really have to go to a brand-named university?  What is the price difference between that and a cheaper local one that you will learn from just the same?  Talk to some students who have been there and done that—what do they say?  Online forums!  While you’re online–think online courses or degrees!  Do you really need to pay $40,000 for a Bachelor Degree–when this stepping stone can be gotten way cheaper?  (It’s a commodity–think $10 coffee vs. $2 coffee).

2. Have you EXHAUSTED your search for possible scholarships and grants?  Have you looked?  Have you really tried applying properly?  Look online, in local government offices; ministries of education; college bulletin boards in the admin office.  Side note: minorities and women always have extra bursaries for them!  Beware of strict deadlines!  Mark them in your calendar and Rocky IV-montage it for the win!

3. Do you have to live away from home?  Is your family that annoying?  The savings on rent and food are enormous!

4. Can you bear sharing your housing?  Have you looked into shared housing?  Is it safe?  Is it too far?  Annoying?  It’s a lot cheaper.

5. Are you smart enough and a hard-enough worker to handle going to school AND working a light part-time job?  That helps.

6. 300 freshmen a year die of alcohol poisoning during Frosh Week, due to their inexperience with it.  Not only your health, but it will also seriously suck your money dry if it becomes a habit.  Alcohol is a diuretic in more ways than one.

7. Do you realize that there are TONS of graduates out of work?  Even those with multiple degrees and YEARS of experience.  What is the unemployment situation in your locality?  Or in your field?  What field are you interested in?  Maybe your field is already over-saturated with graduates.  I’ve read about Harvard Law School grads waiting tables!  Does your dream job really require a particular degree from a particular university?  Can you make your way in another way?  Like, apprenticing / interning in such a field?  Would you be better off learning a practical trade that has demand in the job market?  In which case, a vocational or technical college would be more useful, perhaps?   Be practical.  (I knew a couple that got 2-year diplomas in Purchasing at a training college; they never went to university.  They bought a house in their 20s).

8. Are you truly passionate about what you want to major in?  If you are undecided, maybe it is worth it to take a year off, work at an easy job, save money and decide.

9. Is it possible to borrow money from your parents or trusted friend?  Are you a trustworthy borrower?  You will save so much money on interest!! (Unless your parents are bookies).

10. Are your parents pressuring you to leap into college without you really deciding for yourself?  Are they financially literate?  Have they considered the costs to them or to you?  Real talk.  Or is this some American Dream you guys are all chasing?

Things to consider if you end up having to apply for a loan:

11. What is the compound interest rate on your loan?  What does that even mean?

12. When do you have to start re-paying the loan?  What happens if you are late with your payments?  What does the picture of a ballooning late loan look like?  What is the worst-case scenario—how much would you owe for a loan that is late being paid off over 5 years after graduation?  Do you even understand how this situation in the photo could happen?  (btw, it’s normal!!!  wtf indeed):

Picture 201

13. $#!& happens.  What does your loan contract say if you were to die?  Does your family have to take on the debt (some companies say no, some say yes)?  What happens if you are struck with physical or mental illness and cannot work?  Or get fired or laid off and cannot make loan payments?   What does the fine print say?

14. Some loans may seem better / cheaper than others.  But, understand what the difference is.  Like, one loan seems to give you a lower interest rate for now, but may have stricter terms of you having to pay it back—and may even increase the interest rate later.

15. Research different loan companies WAY ahead of time.  The rush to apply for loans makes people desperate and does not allow for proper thinking time.

16. Ask questions until you understand.

17. Is there insurance you can get to secure regular payments on the debt in the case of you having to take a hiatus, or drop out or be unemployed, laid-off or fired after you graduate?  Are you the type to be able to keep up insurance payments?  Is this option already included in your health insurance for health problems that may come up?

[UPDATE: Bonus #18, billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban blogged this EXCELLENT piece that all high school students NEED TO READ before choosing a college!]

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