Time for a quick reality check: Yes, higher education is still one of the best investments you can make in yourself. On average, college graduates (including associate degree holders) make more money and have better career prospects than high-school graduates.
But the rising cost of college means more and more Americans are going into serious debt. An estimated 42 million of us are more than $1.3 trillion in the hole to pay for college. Americans owe more in student debt than on car loans and credit cards. In fact, student debt is climbing so fast that you can actually watch it grow at the National Student Loan Debt Clock.
Here are a few things you might not know about student debt:
- Being loaded down by student debt can keep you from living your life. Student debt interferes with decisions about marriage, children and home ownership.
- Student debt can follow you for decades and hamper your ability to invest for retirement. And it’s difficult to gain relief from student debt, even in bankruptcy.
- Women are two times more likely than men to think it will take more than 20 years to pay off their college debt.
Here’s the bottom line: think long and hard about how you’re going to pursue that college degree. Learn how much college will cost. Did you know you can save about $45,000 by earning your associate degree at one of Virginia’s Community Colleges, then transferring to a four-year state university? There are smart options available to pursue your degree without a mountain of debt.
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