First Person: I Want My Sons to Graduate Debt-Free

Yahoo Contributor Network

My two sons aren't finished with college yet, but so far they have avoided all college-related debt. As a parent, I feel it's my responsibility to encourage them to enroll in classes or programs only as we can afford them. At this time, higher education is so expensive that it seems like a scam. According to a recent Associated Press article, student loan rates could steadily climb. I don't want my sons to become victims of predatory student lending. I also want them to enter the workforce without the burden of credit card debt and any money owed to family members. According to Fidelity survey cited by a CNNMoney, members of the class of 2013 have an average of $35,200 in college-related debt.

Having student loan remorse

Thirty-nine percent of the college graduates who were surveyed by Fidelity said they would have done things differently if they had known they would get into so much debt. Twelve percent of the graduates said they regretted the decision to go into debt for a college degree.

Avoiding the student loan crisis

I can understand why some students and parents would take out college loans before the student loan crisis. But now that we know what's happening, it seems ridiculous to trade freedom for a piece of paper and a long-term commitment to the "Sallie Mae" from the loan serving center. According to the AP, lawmakers say they want to keep student loan interest rates "affordable" in the short term. New subsidized Stafford student loans could double on July 1 to 6.8 percent. A lot of people don't consider how much money they are spending on interest to pay back their student loans.

Taking time to pick a career

My two sons have picked different strategies for getting through college. But both of them are going to graduate with no student loan debt. My younger son wasn't sure what he wanted to study so he earned his associate's degree in liberal arts as a "dual enrolled" high school student. His education was free. Now that he has picked a career path, he can pay for the classes with cash. My older son is spending some time in the workforce as he figures out which classes to take next.

I am not going to say that college degrees are not worth it. But I do think the only people who need college degrees are people going into fields that require specific degrees and training. As a writer, I could have been hired without a degree, but got a "fluffy degree" as an English major. In fact, many of my colleagues at a daily newspaper in Indiana never had more than a high school degree. They were hired based on their writing samples. As long as my sons have specific career goals that depend on a degree, it's worth it to pay cash for college. I just don't think it's ever worth it to take out student loans. I rather they take their chunk of change and buy a condo.

*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

More from this contributor:

I Should Have Saved Cash in my 20s

Why I Should Buy Real Estate Like My Grandparents

Preventing a 'Bag Lady' Future

View Comments