The Cost Of Education, A Worthy Investment?

Check out my guest post over at Ms. JD. It’s all about staying on budget while maintaining a social life.

While I’m (obviously) not an attorney and while I don’t have a Juris Doctorate degree either I get to meet a lot (a ton) of lawyers because of job as a clerk for the state. Sometimes it feels like everyone I know is a lawyer. So often I hear about people graduating law school with $100,000 – $150,000 in student loans. Now that is an intense amount of debt, and it makes my $40,000 photo school education feel like a bargain.

It’s all relative right.

I get to meet a lot of law school students too, and the cost of law school inevitably comes up. The choice has to get made: do you get an education in your desired field and hope you can get a job that pays enough for the cost of the education upon graduation or do you not?

If you don’t want the loans you don’t get the education and then you don’t even get a shot at getting your dream job. More times than not people take on the loans and hope for the best. No one’s gonna say, “Yeah, I’m not good enough” or “I won’t get the job I need to get to pay for those loans.” Maybe it happens but not often, and wouldn’t it be completely counter-culture to do here in America? Nobody says they can’t. We all say “We Can!” and “Not only can we, we’ll be the best.”

Hearing about those overwhelming feelings that come with having such a hugely abstract amount of educational debt sucks. I was trying to think of a better way to put it but that’s it- it just sucks.

Education remains a great investment though, and while getting those loans paid off is a daunting task it’s one worth tackling asap to keep the interest from accruing and resulting in an even more expensive education.


What do you think about the state and cost of education in our country? Is a higher education a worthy and neccesary investment? Do you consider student loans “good debt”? What if you don’t know what you want to do with your life, should you go to college anyway? 

P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp!


6 thoughts on “The Cost Of Education, A Worthy Investment?

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  1. Jessie

    I definitely think that student loans are a type of 'good debt' BUT I think students should be working while they are in school as to accrue the smallest amount of student loans that they can. I work full time and go to school full time. My first two years of college I went to the community college, lived with my parents, and paid cash for school. Now that I'm on my own it is much harder to do that so yes I do have student loans, but they are very small so far. I think taking out living expenses is a little excessive. My recommendation is that if you don't have enough time to work and go to school, that you cut down on how many classes you're taking so that you're not a crazy person and you also have an income to pay your bills. I am a full believer in working while you're in school to alleviate the financial burden! =)

  2. Emily

    I fully agree with Jesse. I wish I had taken that advice when I went to school1 I came out of graduate school $73,000 in the hole with a Social Work degree. Ugh. And I worked throughout all of undergrad and grad school. I was just ignorant and young.

    I also think it's okay to put off school for a while if you don't know what you want to do. I don't see the point of going through the motions and wracking up debt in the hopes that you'll figure it out eventually. Even worse would be accruing debt and then deciding it's not for you and coming out with no degree and no money.

    School is over emphasized in this country. It's not necessarily for everyone. Sure, it's great if you can get an education and that's what you want, but it's not a prerequisite for success. Look at some of the people who have made and done amazing things sans college degree (Steve Jobs comes to mind first).

  3. courtney

    This is such a good post– and very timely! I have a B.A. and a couple student loans I am still paying off, and I did not get a very marketable degree (English). I was not financially responsible in school– I should not have taken out the loans, because if I had lived a frugal lifestyle I would have been fine (my dad even funded my undergraduate tuition). Ugh!
    Now I want to go to culinary school, and I am having the hardest time deciding if it is worth it financially. A law degree almost guarantees a high paying job to pay off those astronomical loans, but culinary school? Not so much. Yikes. Part of me thinks I should wait until I am out of debt before taking out more student loans, but the other part of me doesn't want to wait to get started on this new career path.
    I think loans for school could be considered "good" debt, but I think many (if not most) students take them out when they don't really need to. (Like I did.) It's better to take your time, either going to school part-time, or really deciding what you want to do with your life before making that kind of financial commitment.

  4. Kayla

    I would agree to some extent that college loans are a good thing. As a college undergrad who hopes to eventually get a Masters Degree (in theatre, no less!), I'm trying to stay smart and frugal during my college years. I'm lucky enough to be able to go to a community college for my first couple of years with money from scholarships being returned to me because I had more than what was needed to cover tuition but I know all that will soon change when I have to transfer. But again, (luckily) there is a university a few hours away that, if I can get in to the program, will be a reasonable cost and with my academic record as well as hopeful performance grants, I should be able to cover the cost of tuition.

    I would have loved to have gone to an expensive conservatory in New York but that is just not possible for me, financially. I'm also one of many who do not qualify for financial aid but qualify for "low interest student loans." If it comes down to me staying in school with some debt or me quitting school with no debt, I'll take the debt but only exactly what I need for my college goals. (I also love school!)

  5. Karen Peterson

    The only real debt I have is my car and my student loans. My student loan debt isn't huge. About 18,000. But it's daunting and I feel like I'll never get it paid off because I don't make enough at my current job and I can't bear the thought of accruing more debt to get a graduate degree.

    Every day I find myself wishing I had taken longer and worked my way through school.

  6. Meghan

    This is an interesting topic to me because I have a little brother who is in school and because after undergrad and two masters degrees, I have oh… $143,487.84 in loans. Well actually, the balance is higher now because of interest accrual. Most of that balance is due to interest, both accrued and capitalized. The system works against independent students who have successful parents (meaning my parents had a six figure salary but contributed zilch). That's okay but it really hurts when you've been accruing 8.25% – 10.5% unsubsidized interest loans while you're in school.

    All that said, it's worth it for me. For one, I have a decent salary (not as high as my loan balance, and not even 6 figures, but certainly higher than most). Second, I signed up for income based repayment. Normal borrowers get their loans forgiven after 25 years of making payments amounting to 15% of your income but I'm on this 10 year public service forgiveness plan. Thankfully, I paid off my private loans by taking out more in federal loans so all qualify for forgiveness. I will never pay off my loans. I don't even think my payment covers the interest and I'm okay with that, because of the forgiveness. I consider that monthly payment as what it took to get my paycheck and I don't begrudge it at all. My salary would be half as much as it is now if I had stayed in property management.

    So is it worth it? That totally depends on what career you're going in to, what kind of salary you'll earn, and what incentives there might be for repayment. My little brother wants to be a teacher so I am definitely trying to keep him from taking out more than is absolutely necessary!!!!!


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