A while back, I had a conversation with my editor, Vickie Chachere, who is a wealth of information-not just about journalism-but about the world.
I was concerned over the idea of taking out student loans to finance textbooks and equipment my scholarships and grants wouldn’t cover, and my second bachelors degree in psychology. She made a great point- people are willing to take out massive loans for their cars and houses, material objects that you only use/live in for so long, but hesitate to take out loans for their education. What better investment could one make?
That being said, I took out the necessary loans. Read “necessary” here. I do not advocate taking out loans to cover your living expenses, rent, big screen televisions with 3d gaming capabilities, etc. Unless you’re pursuing a profession that could land you some big bucks, i.e. lawyer or doctor, where the focus should be entirely on school and not at all on a part-time job, you shouldn’t take out loans for living expenses. Doubly so if you plan on being a journalist, like me. Let’s be realistic here.
What brought this up is a recent conversation with a friend and former co-worker of mine who is in the same boat as I am financially. Her parents income counts against her because of her age and even her own meager income counts against her, when everything she is making is going towards living expenses and bills with nothing left over for tuition. She is deadset against the idea of taking out loans because of the interest and would rather pay everything up front. While that would be wonderful and is idealistically the best route to go, it’s not always realistic.
With student loans, interest rates are relatively low, as are the payments and you get a six-month grace period to start paying them after graduation. Although it’s not the ideal situation, it’s better than not finishing school.
Education is an investment, except it’s an investment you make that will serve you your entire life. With anything else we purchase that costs that much money, we do not hesitate to takeout loans, like for houses and cars, and using credit cards which we ALL use, yet hesitate with the loans for our education. I find that an odd cultural trend.
Yes, do everything you can to get the scholarships and the grants. But don’t turn down a loan as a last resort.