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Student Debt

How does the cost of college impact students today?

It is amazing how quickly times change. Glen Wardlaw, a guest on today’s show, talked about his family’s finances following their move from Arkansas to Oregon during the Depression. “We didn’t borrow money,” he said. “Dad didn’t believe in banks. He kept money on his person, what little he had. So when we got to Oregon we just made do with what we had.”

At that time few people attended college. Today college is considered the new high school for many families, and a bachelor’s degree is the basic education many parents hope their children will achieve.

But that education comes at a cost. Undergraduate tuition at the University of Oregon is about $6,000 a year for someone from this state. At Reed College it’s $38,000 a year. And that is tuition alone — add on the cost of room and board and textbooks and beer and you’re up to $50,000. According to the US Department of Education, two-thirds of students in the US graduate with some kind of student debt. The average is almost $20,000.

Families look to federal student aid programs, but also private loans, credit cards and retirement savings when figuring out how to pay for college. So this means many students are coming out of school already plagued with debt. How does that debt impact their lives and the choices they make in their career?

How much did you — or your children — pay for college? Was the cost of the school a factor in chosing which college to attend? Did you consider the kind of job that would be available after graduation when incurring debt at the front end? Did credit cards ever come into play as you decided how to pay for school? How did the cost of college impact your life?


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