University loans aren’t always a bad thing
It is clear that we have a huge student debt problem in our country, but the news is not all bad.
Student loans can be an equalizer. They offer an opportunity.
I was one of the 44 million people in the United States who have student loans, until I paid them off last year.
It took me a little under 18 and was difficult, sometimes overwhelming and too often ruined my personal identity. Having school loans, however, also made me financially aware, focused (with my classes and my job search), and built my confidence.
I would love to see a world where everyone has access to free college education, whether it’s in public schools, community colleges, or an online degree.
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Until we live in a world, however, where college education is free, we are doing a huge disservice to all those students who cannot afford college by saying that school loans are bad. Here’s why:
- School loans can be a great tool for a young adult to learn about financing, debt limits, contract terms, banking, and working with a professional and a financial institution.
- School loans present the reality of the cost of education and hopefully underscore the importance of taking full advantage of the opportunity.
- School loans can help prevent the idea that college is a big party.
- School loans will encourage or even force a student to work, which can help keep their time focused and managed.
- School loans can motivate a graduate student to take a more serious look at their career path and overall future earlier than other students, in part because there is a financial obligation that must be repaid.
- School loans can be a great tool for parents to have a structured conversation about money, debt, goals, needs, and savings.
- School loans are a fantastic way for young adults to start their financial journey while taking charge of some (or all if necessary) of their college experience.
The conversation needs to change so that we can empower students and families who need to use school loans, rather than making those students and their families feel less well.
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The current tone of communication around student loans in this country is causing people to view student loans as an adversity, something to be avoided and something that can wreak financial havoc. It is rare to hear the positive opportunities that they can create.
If we are to continue to contribute to the advancement of our communities, we must reframe the approach to student loans so that more people can see student loans as a tool for personal, professional and financial advancement.
Student loans are all about investing in ourselves. Let’s prepare individuals to make the most prudent investment decision for themselves with their school choice and funding by teaching personal finance in kindergarten.
The cumulative benefits could be unlimited.
Katherine Liola is the founder and CEO of Concentric Private Heritage. She is also a Certified Financial Planner and Certified Retirement Planning Advisor, and holds many other titles and diplomas.
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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Tassels.