Are Student Loans “Child Abuse”?


Everyone knows college isn’t cheap.  Students can get loans, but should you advise your child to get one?  The average student loan debt is about $30,000.  Enjoy digging out of that mess, junior!

If your master plan is to declare bankruptcy to get out of paying it back, nah baby, nah.  Barring an undue hardship exemption, you are on the hook for student loans.

I ask if student loans are child abuse because most college students aren’t prepared to make the decision to take on that debt.  I wasn’t.  I was legally an adult, but had much to learn about the real world.  Heck, my freshman year at college, I washed my wool sweater and then tossed it in the dryer. Like the dude in the photo, I didn’t even know how laundry worked.  What did I understand about repaying an installment loan every month for 5-10 years so I could attend this awesome party called “college”?

Be honest, if your child got a student loan you probably didn’t co-sign it did you?  That’s because you didn’t want to be on the hook in case your kid acts the way you did when you were 22.

How much are we talking?

This calculator will help.  Plugging in the average student loan debt of $30,000 at Federal Stafford Loan rate of 6.8%, the monthly payment is $345 for 10 years.  They suggest a graduate will require an annual salary of $41,428 to pay it back.  Will your education get you a job where you will earn that?

Don’t get me wrong.  I loved college!  My Bachelor’s Degree is in Business Psychology.  Yes, I am a man of letters.  Midway through my four years, my folks wanted me to have some skin in the game.  They thought it might motivate me.  I had no concept of what it meant to pay back a student loan.

UntitledLuck for me, Miami University was affordable back then. Tuition, Room & Board, plus health and accident insurance for all four years combined came to $18,420.  Believe it!  Here are the cost breakdowns for my tuition as a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior.

I graduated with a measly $7,500 in student loan debt.  That was a different time.

Using this trusty inflation calculator, the $4,846 I paid my senior year should be $10,551 in 2015.

Alas, my alma mater’s 2015 sticker price is $25,122.  That is for ONE year’s tuition, room & board, and miscellaneous fees.  That means it will run over $100,000 to get a four year degree.

So Whaddyado?

  1. Have a plan for funding your child’s education. Unless you have a bottomless money jar, don’t spend $23,000 For Kindergarten when you could sock that away in a 529 plan for college.
  2. Check out for more info on financial aid.
  3. Apply for Federal Student Aid at gov
  4. Like I wrote in Affording Private High School, see if your child qualifies for any scholarships or tuition assistance.
  5. Pick a college you (and your child) can afford.
  6. Live in a van like this Duke grad student.

Lastly, consider taking a year off after high school to get a taste of the real world.  I did not do this, but my buddy Figs did.  Not only did he earn money for school, but he said it made him a better student since he knew what it was like on the outside.

Shrunken sweater photo credit



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