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The Sound of Ideas

How Much Should I Borrow for College?

Posted Monday, November 8, 2010

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For high school seniors who plan to attend college, and their families, now is the time to get down to business. Last chance to take the entrance exams, prepare the applications and write the essays. Oh, and there's the small matter of choosing a school and coming up with tuition. On the next Sound of Ideas, should kids know what they want to do and consider how much the job pays before deciding how much to spend on college? Choosing the right college that's also right for your budget, Tuesday at 9 on 90.3.




Stephen Talbott, Author, “How Much Should I Borrow for College?”
Belinda Miles, President of Tri-C East Campus
Marvin Krislov, President, Oberlin College

Additional Information

How Much Should I Borrow For College?
How To Choose a College That's Right For You
Your College Major May Not Be As Important as You Think
Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents
The Death of Liberal Arts

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Marla 9:26 AM 11/9/10

I was lucky enough to enter Oberlin when admissions was truly “needs blind”, so my family’s circumstance was not considered in terms of whether I could financially contribute to my Oberlin education.  I came from a family on welfare in Lorain County and had no assets or income.  By applying for aid thru the federal government, receiving scholarship thru Oberlin’s funds for students in need, and participating in work study, I was able to leave Oberlin with only $10,000 of debt in 1989.  I imagine these numbers by today’s standards would be very different.  Nevertheless, I would encourage anyone interested in a place like Oberlin not to table the idea due to circumstance, but to truly explore how to make it happen by doing what President Krislov suggests—apply for financial aid.

Sam 9:28 AM 11/9/10

My daughter is a senior and we are looking for colleges for her. Our income is like many middle class families. We don’t think she will qualify for need based aid but we don’t earn enough to be able pay for many of the private colleges that she wants to attend. We don’t feel we are rich and we do not want our daughter to start her life with a student loan as part of her “financial aid”. My wife and I are in a quandary as to how to allow our daughter to attend a college of her choice and be able to pay for it without any loans.

Su 9:29 AM 11/9/10

I have 2 students in college… 1 at a public Ohio university and another at Oberlin College. My daughter at the public university actually transferred from a smaller private university at the end of her sophomore year and since then has accrued $20K+ in student loans. In my experience I’ve found that the smaller liberal arts colleges such as Oberlin (and my other daughter’s original college) seem to work more with the students to locate grants etc so they are not burdened with multiple loans upon graduation. I recommend that students apply for every scholarship possible and really consider a private institution.

Robin 9:33 AM 11/9/10

I just sent my 4th and final child to college.  None of my children would consider an Ohio school even though my husband and I are both OSU grads.  All of my chidren have received nice scholarships from private schools as they were bright students in high school although we have borrowed about 20,000 for each child but view this as an investment in themselves and their futures.  My husband and I are paying the loans until they have jobs where their income allows them to take over.  Thankfully, my 25 and 23 year old are gainfully employed but, sadly, not in Cleveland.  My 21 y/o will graduate in May in the arts and I keep my fingers crossed she will find employment.  My youngest is in biomedical engineering and a female. I am trying to encourage her to come back home as I read more about what The Cleveland Clinic and the future Medical Mart will offer for jobs.  My husband and I had to take loans out ourselves to raise our economic standard of living which has worked so whose to say it won’t work out for the kids.

David Briggs 9:43 AM 11/9/10

I do not think I qualify for grants, as my wife has a good income and we have some savings. We do have expenses however, and I don’t want to dip into my mutual funds to pay for a Cleveland State Accelerated BSN program. Current scholarships look like they pay after I’m enrolled and during my second or last year. Do I have any other options?

Gini 9:46 AM 11/9/10

It’s important that your student is ready for college. Against my opinion, my ex-husband insisted our daughter go straight to college. She dropped out after two disastrously expensive years, but after 2 years in minimum wage jobs went back and is graduating in December. If only she had spent those two minimum wage years before racking up that debt.

Emily 9:51 AM 11/9/10

We hear a lot about what new students should do in terms of loans going into college, but what about the students who have already graduated with too much debt. Is there anything these students can do? There are many students who have graduated in the last 7 years, who made financial loan decisions at the ago of 18 and the debt will now make them struggle for the rest of their lives.

Joane Johnson 9:54 AM 11/9/10

I have a neice who has carried a 4.0 since the beginning of time.  She is 16, a senior at the School of Arts.  She has already received a summer scholarship from the Art Institute.  I am the oldest of five daughters, raised in the Hough area.  We all attended college.  We ALL had scholarships.  One was offered a four year to Case Western in the 70’s.  She had spent her summers during high school there and chose Wilmington, down state.  She is a retired school teacher, now.  My children attended CSU and BGSU.  Scholarships and my husband and I paid for anything left.  IF there are any debts, they have made them in post grad classes.  My parents put five daughters and we have put 5 of 7 grandchildren through college with little or no debt because, as a black family we knew the importance of an education and made sure the money was there after scholarships, grants.  No loans.  We will continue with the fourth generation(we are a family if educators and have reltives with degrees before us.  Grambling is the family Alma Mater).  My grandson is the oldest at 8 and reads on an 8th grade level, now.

Jessica S. Novak 11:11 AM 11/9/10

Here’s something students and their families might find helpful:

Lakeland has an online tuition calculator
that lets you see how much money can be saved by taking the first two years at Lakeland and then transferring out to a four-year institution.

You can compare up to three colleges at a time.

Up-to-date 2010 fall tuition numbers will be up soon.

Mark 12:53 PM 11/9/10

I want to go on for graduate school in the area of Religions Studies, however, the Master’s degree is seldom if ever covered by grants and scholarships or even assistantships.  Assistantships are usually offered at the PhD level only.  So how am I supposed to go into a field of study that doesn’t pay as well as a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, and accrue close to $75,000 of debt.  My loan payment would be a real financial burden.

Should universities start accepting less students to master’s level humanities degrees?  There just isn’t a return on that investment for everyone.


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