You may have read that the student loan forgiveness program (started in 2007) has been an enormous disaster. I’ve written about it here a few times, and in short, next to no one has had their loan forgiven despite making payments faithfully for 10 years. Biden announced Wednesday that the program is being revamped in an effort to correct the disaster.
Most of the time I think the best use of our human resources and time is spent homeschooling our own kids and helping them become successful. I don’t have the time or energy to try and change a broken system (not today anyway), so I’m rarely angry when I read the news. But today I’m angry.
Here’s the facts: since 2007 over 1 million people have taken student loans with the intent that their commitment to work in public service for 10 years with a perfect payment history would ERASE the debt. Now, let’s be honest, if you can’t pay for your degree in 10 years, you probably “overpaid” to begin with and being chained to a job that you might not still love 10 years later is an unreasonable sacrifice to ask of anyone, but people have done it – are doing it. The Department of Education reports 1.3 million people have completed the program, but only 16,000 were approved for debt forgiveness. That’s just over 1% of those who DID THE PROGRAM had their debts forgiven.
This disaster of the program was such a colossal failure, that it was sure to be shut down. In my opinion, that would be a good thing. Dangling a carrot in front of people to entice them into debt is irresponsible and I hate everything about this joke of a program that perpetuates a broken system. But then today, I read this:
“The Education Department on Wednesday announced a sweeping overhaul to the loan forgiveness program that will immediately erase the debt of 22,000 borrowers to the tune of $1.7 billion. The government estimated another 27,000 borrowers could see about $2.8 billion in debts forgiven if they prove they were employed in an eligible job.”
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
Really? We want to keep this program and encourage MORE PEOPLE to enter?
Getting a college degree “at all costs” doesn’t have to mean signing away a decade of service and crossing your fingers. It is programs like these (and guaranteed student loans) that have allowed colleges to go unchecked. Simply, when people are willing to borrow any amount of money for a credential from a specific school, the school has no incentive to put on the brakes. The willingness to overpay and the availability of unlimited loans have created a problem for parents. We want our kids to get a degree, the money is available with a quick signature, and we can worry about the fallout later.
I want my kids to earn degrees too. I want them in occupations that pay a living wage, and I want them to take their education seriously. But, my “at all costs” looks different than simply signing on the dotted line.
Homeschooling for College Credit “at all costs”
- There are 3,800 regionally accredited colleges in this country, and you won’t be able to compare them all, but people committed to earning a degree without debt can employ strategies to filter out schools very quickly.
- Credit earned in high school can be free or very low cost (10% of what you’ll pay after high school graduation), so earning college credit in high school is very important.
- Choosing colleges that are willing to accept that earned credit is very important.
- Bringing the goal post as close as possible before you start leaves fewer credits to pay for once you get there!!! It’s like starting a marathon at mile 20 instead of 0.
- Earning college credit ahead of enrollment makes your teen more likely to finish.
- 50% of students who start college never finish, you have to beat BIG ODDS to get a degree.
- Everyone who starts college thinks they’ll finish.
- Borrowed money is still due, even when you drop out.
- Lower level courses are the cheapest and easiest to earn (100-200). Never borrow money for those.
- The more vague your career objective, the less you should pay for your degree. Only when you have a SOLID understanding of what credential you need can you assess what cost is reasonable.
- All degrees from a college cost the same, so it’s unreasonable to think that the school you choose is the only variable to consider regarding value and return on investment.
- Insisting that your teen complete their first 30-60 college credits in high school or immediately after through the community college allows them to demonstrate proof of concept. If they are going to flunk out, it’s going to happen in the first 2 years, so get them over that hump before you start spending real money.
- A 4-year degree is not the standard for all occupations. Some occupations require licenses, certifications, and special training separate and apart from a college degree. Find out what your teen’s target occupation requires FIRST.
- College admissions propaganda sends the message that a degree will be worth it, pay for itself, and set your teen up for guaranteed job security.
- College outcome data (disclosure required) tells us the truth. You’ll find this data in a footer somewhere hidden inside their website OR you can read the data yourself National Center for Education Statistics.
- Ask yourself who benefits from teens that start college?
- Ask yourself who benefits from teens that linger on for years and years in a degree program (paying tuition by borrowing more)
- Ask yourself why a college might not want all students to graduate?
- Ask yourself who benefits from their “locked” employment obligation?
- Ask yourself who promotes an agenda against getting a degree as quickly, cheaply, and easily as possible?
- Ask yourself what would happen if we all voted with our checkbooks?
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