Crushing debt: Students finding solutions to avoid or survive loans

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  • Oh My Heck! Vernal, UT
    Oct. 15, 2012 10:11 p.m.

    My son graduated from BYU in August as a pre-med student (and he changed to pre-dental about a year ago, so had to take a few additional classes before graduating). He has worked through his entire college, has applied for grants and scholarships, and finally did have to acquire a little student debt to be able to go to the Jerusalem Center for a semester. Now he's working to pay off the debt, while applying to dental schools. His plan is to enlist in the Air Force in their college program where he will attend school, paid for by the Air Force (plus a small stipend for living expenses), and then he will owe an equivalent time as an Air Force dentist. Takes a few years, but he will end up with experience and no debt. This method doesn't work for all professions, but certainly is one option for some.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Oct. 15, 2012 5:02 p.m.

    The bigger question should be why have colleges been able to keep their scam going for all of these years?? I am in no way against higher education, but it is a scam to make students take and pay for classes that aren't needed for their degree. That adds up to thousands and thousands of dollars that every student shouldn't have to spend. If you are getting a degree in business do you really need a humanities class, or a physical fitness class?? Seriously?? They have all of these electives to make you "well rounded". Well I have news for you. There is no way that these classes that are pointless should be a part of the school program. I know many friends who are in college and have had to take the most pointless classes. It is a scam in that regard. Obviously education is important, but if they would cut down the amount of pointless classes and focus on topics pertaining to the degree it could cut the degree time in half, allowing students to get in the workforce earlier and get rid of the debt sooner.

  • wazzup Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 15, 2012 8:58 a.m.

    It's simple. Because of the backing of the government, the tuition has skyrocketed. It is the federal government's fault that anyone can get a loan without any clear way to repay them.

    That will be the next government bailout at taxpayer expense!

  • andyjaggy American Fork, UT
    Oct. 15, 2012 8:17 a.m.

    Student loans are definitely a problem.

    That said I feel little sympathy for some people. I have read about too many people who go to a fancy college, earn a useless degree that has very little earning potential, chose to live in an incredibly expensive city, and then whine that everything didn't work out for them.

    I'm not against the government giving out student loans, but as usual I think there needs to be more accountability. I think the loans should be partly based on previous academic performance, the amount of the loan should be based on the earning potential of the chosen career, and the continuation of loans should be based on current academic performance.

    It's impossible to have a useful productive conversation on how to reform the current system. It's simply one side screaming at the other, Mia Love screaming that we need to axe student loans, Matheson screaming that Mia wants to kill opportunities for middle class Americans. Uck, I can't wait until November is over.

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    Oct. 15, 2012 4:10 a.m.

    What it sounds like is that education is no longer a one shot system, where one degree will suffice to work many jobs and talents and skills. I say its a flaw with education not properly educating with general educations and career guidance.

    My schooling has always been within my likes and abilities so that it only took one path of study. Abilities and likes, not education, should be any one's goal for success. People are being encouraged by governemnt to go to re-education and debt to hide them from unemployment numbers and provide money for the schools. Re-education does not provide jobs but it does keep people from looking for work.

    Colleges are whining because enrollment numbers have dropped and its robbing the investors of income from student debt. It's sad these people are taking on more wrongful debt that serves no purpose. The only thing they are doing is giving a professor a position and employment.

    Cost of education is high because government is funding it with fraud and corruption and easy money for the taking and no accountability. How does lower cost education benefit debt when the Utah job market is poverty?

  • 101Ways Taylorsville, UT
    Oct. 15, 2012 3:24 a.m.

    Yes, people do get an education in fields of study not suitable for their interests and abilities but that is part of the $Trillion scam education is playing with minds and pocket books financing all the degrees.

    Teachers are planning childrens lives from pre school into jobs they know nothing about. Now teachers tell a 4-5 year old child to pick a career they want to have and then schools focus their education in that subject ignoring the fact that at some point in their life they have other interests and abilities.

    This is why no one is happy in their jobs or licensed professionals in science, law, medical, and public careers, they keep looking for their path. Educators and government robbed them of that choice and path long before they even knew how to spell edkation.

    That path many were forced into has been an expensive economic disaster but very profitable for the schools and government as they keep returning looking for their niche. All this has come about because failed education system has chosen to enlist the demands of business and corporations what subjects and career oriented education business should be provided with on the assembly lines.

  • MAYHEM MIKE Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 14, 2012 8:10 p.m.

    Re: carman

    I agree with you and others who advocate trying to avoid debt as much as possible by living frugally, as well as attending a lower-cost institution (rather than a "big name" university). One who truly desires to learn can do so no matter the academic ranking of his/her school. However, if one wants to study one of the "white-collar" professions, such as law, dentistry, medicine, etc., he will incur great debt. While one is not forced to study those fields, it is too bad that many are discouraged from those occupations because of burdensome debt. We are blessed, here in Utah, that undergraduate tuition is affordable for most, and, as you and others say, with careful budgeting, one can graduate without much, if any, debt.

  • dave4197 Redding, CA
    Oct. 14, 2012 5:03 p.m.

    The big problem with student loans is they pay for school administrators and non teaching (researching) professors. Lecturers don't get paid well yet they do much of the teaching of basic subjects. TA's don't get paid well yet they do much of the lab instruction, the where the hands on learning happens. Schools admins get rich on money from gov't guaranteed student loans. It's the big elephant in the room. It's not about students scraping by, it's not about students working harder, they already do. It's about where the money goes, to those who can't enjoy a middle class lifestyle, but who harvest money from middle class parents trying to get an education for their kids.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Oct. 14, 2012 4:03 p.m.

    My problem is all those college graduates who cannot find jobs.

    OTOH where can I find a skilled tradesman who is not too busy to do a simple building project for me? There seems to be too many college students, too many college graduates, and, despite the reported unemployment in the building trades, too few skilled tradesmen.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Oct. 14, 2012 3:33 p.m.

    Here are some strategies to avoid loans and crushing debt. Work. Don't get a car. Learn to like spaghetti O's. When spring break comes, work more hours. Get through school as quickly as possible.
    When you're a student, you owe your parents and yourself a time of the most focused, frugal you possible.

  • manutd Milford, CT
    Oct. 14, 2012 3:10 p.m.

    cant sympathize with the law student who failed the bar then chooses to live in nyc but when it comes to graduate degrees you simply can not do it by scraping by working hard along the way as some of you imply. you cant pay your way through something like law school or medical school.

    i worked my way through college at UVU/BYU and ended up with minimal student loans. even going to utah, a state medical school, i ended up with 200K student loans. you cant work another job and attend medical school at the same time so you borrow again to get by for the next 8 years. during medical school we lived meagerly. during residency my effective income was less than the nurses.

    i have no savings, retirement. meanwhile those loans are accruing interest. now that i have my first real job my six figure salary becomes very average after 35% taxes, malpractice insurance, and enormous student loans. i drive a honda and live in an average home. i will be paying these loans for the rest of my life. i too will not be able to retire at 65, assuming i dont croak before then.

  • t702 Las Vegas, NV
    Oct. 14, 2012 1:31 p.m.

    As an immigrant that worked 3 jobs while in college and got out with zero debt, I have no sympathy for these people. During 100 deg all summer long worked at Kennecott mine, days, nights, and weekends to pay for my college. This sort of story is not unique as there are millions who took responsibilities for their own good and made it happen.

    The folks in this storyline took loans instead of working to pay for their college and now they want us to give them a break? Are you kidding?

    How about the millions that worked hard and paid for college from their own sweat and tears, you never hear them whine about their hardships because they're too busy working. If anyone deserve a break, these folks are not only the ones that deserve it but are also the ones that make America great

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Oct. 14, 2012 10:35 a.m.

    To MayhemMike,

    You ask the wrong question. We should be asking, why does the government lend money to companies like Solyndra AND why do their guarantee student loans to future dead-beat students? No one forced these students to live beyond their means and borrow tens of thousands of dollars. My children have been working summers, saving birthday money, getting good grades/scholarships, investing their money wisely, etc. since they were young so they wouldn't HAVE to borrow money for college - or at least keep debt to very small amounts.

    There is no need to go into huge debt for an education. You can get a great education on low debt if you choose the school wisely, prepare in advance financially, and then work really hard while in school (academically and perhaps at a part-time job).

    There is no need for government to distort the market and encourage heavy borrowing with guarantees and low interest rates. Low interest rates don't help if you borrow too much and can't even repay the principal.

  • Springvillepoet Springville, UT
    Oct. 14, 2012 8:52 a.m.

    Yes. I have a difficult time having sympathy for people who choose a name over practicality when choosing a school. I received vocational rehab from the VA, but when I said I was going to teach, they were frightened because of the soft teaching market in Utah County---so many applicants willing to work minimum wage for years there until a position opens. They were even more frightened when I said I wanted to teach history and English instead of math. However, when I told them I was willing to relocate, the fear went away.

    The VA was willing to pay for any school I was accepted to, and I still chose a state school in an inexpensive community because I knew the cost of living would have an impact upon me and my family's life.

    There are very few schools where a name means a lot, and if you go to one of those schools, you had better be prepared to make your degree work for you. And as for being a writer, a person can be a lawyer and write, too. The person in this story has nobody to blame except herself.

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    Oct. 14, 2012 7:53 a.m.

    Doesn't NYC have a high cost of living? There must be other options such as relocating to another part of the country where there are better employment prospects and more affordable housing. I would leave NYC in a heartbeat if I were in her situation.

  • MAYHEM MIKE Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 14, 2012 7:29 a.m.

    Thanks for a truly depressing article! One wonders why the government has sufficient money to invest in foolish ventures like Solyndra, but cannot forgive student loans for those who could contribute positively to the economy.

  • weathered siding San Antonio, TX
    Oct. 14, 2012 6:55 a.m.

    Sounds like a lot of folks aren't educating their children about "living within your means", "avoiding debt", and "the value of hard work". I busted my butt to put myself through college ... don't know how I did it now, getting 4-5 hours sleep and working crappy jobs that paid moderately well, but I did. My kid's know we have a zero-tolerance policy on student loans ... earn it, then spend it ... pay as you go ... and avoid a form of crippling government welfare known as "student loans"!

  • Red Headed Stranger Billy Bobs, TX
    Oct. 13, 2012 8:47 p.m.

    So, the person in this story is 49. She went to New York University Law School. She didn't pass the bar. Instead of trying again she decided that she wants to be a writer. And still live in New York City. Hmm, I think I know why she can't repay her loan. . .