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25 August 2012


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In my home we are really wrestling with this issue. I have 3 children. (25, 23, 21) The first chose not to go to college. The second went to community college, then finished at state university and earned a degree in graphic design. Our third child will finish her AS at community college and wants to go on to finish the major in communications at university. My husband does not want ot cosign for any loan for this child due to 2 factors. He is set to retire from his current job in 3 years and with the horrible job prospects facing new grads he does not want to get stuck paying the loan. I feel horrible about this situation because as you pointed out when you outlined the financial aid rules since our youngest is 21 and has always lived at home there is no way she is going to be able to atttain a loan on her own. She is a B average student so not stellar enough for scholarships. Basically, I don't think she will be able to go on. Here is the kicker though. I read all these blogs stating that it just may not be financially the best move anymore to go to college but I seee my oldest struggle everyday working two minimum wage jobs and still not fully making it. I do not see the opportunities out there to make a living wage without the college degree. Maybe it is just where I live in a semi rural area in the Midwest. My middle child moved to the city and obtained a job in his/her field of design. This child is not making tons of money but can support his/her self and is insured. I tell you I really feel guilty about the whole situation and would so like her to be able to finish the degree but my husband is right and it really should not be on us to sign for it.(I probably should have mentioned that my husbands level of education is AS and mine is Masters and we have both spent our entire careers in our field of study. Our child qualifies for a miniscule amount of financial aid according to FAFSA and we have paid for all of his/her education up until now.)Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!


Jan, what ways does your daughter envision earning a living?


That is a great question! I am really not sure that she is completely set on what she actually wants to do with it, but she recently said when looking at schools that she would like to be in media communications but she adamantly states that she would take any entry level position she is offered even outside of media. I accidentally left t out that her AS will be finished in December.


I hesitate to write too much that sounds advice-y, because what do I know? I'm 38, my oldest is 12, and I'm writing the series in order to try and sort out my thoughts.

Sometimes I think part of the problem that young people have -- I know I was this way, and it only didn't hurt me because I was lucky -- is thinking in terms of "What do I want to do [with my education]" rather than "What do I have of value to offer the world?"

Only if you're fortunate enough to be passionate about a subject that pays well, or if you're fortunate enough to really stand out from the crowd in a subject that generally doesn't, can you bet on earning a good living by, well, taking your favorite school subject and spending four years really diving into it. It's like --- almost sacrifice-free.

If it was me and my daughter -- congratulations on her finishing her AS by the way, it isn't a small accomplishment -- if my daughter was realistic enough to say "I'll take any entry level position I can get," I would ask if she has figured out what the earnings difference is likely to be between

- a person with her AS degree and two years' work experience (not necessarily in her field, as she may have to take a job outside it)

- and a person with a BS in communications and no work experience at all.

I would try and figure out the difference in a monthly paycheck for those two people, and then I would want to calculate how much a monthly loan payment will be after graduation and find out if the difference covers that.

It's just a starting point.


Thanks Erin! I found your suggestion here and your husband's post today very helpful.


Oh good. I hope you have some other advisors besides me, because I am really just thinking off the top of my head here.

I don't know if it comes from the media trying to construct an artificial narrative, but there seem to be an awful lot of articles describing young people who appear to be shocked at the size of their monthly loan repayment. I have to wonder if they never thought to find out how much it would be each month. Here is a loan calculator: http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/mortgages/loan-calculator.aspx


LOL. Yes I have spoken to about everyone I know on this subject!It is about equally divided between people that think I should just sign and the others that say it won't kill her to work for a few years and go back if she wants to do it. I just really appreciated your opinion since it is truly unbiased, since you have never met my family, and quite honestly you are coming from a place of having actually researched the subject not just spouting uninformed opinions. You would be surprised how many people I have heard that just blindly co signed and did not even know the rules. I know one thing as well that is different now than when I took out and repaid my student loan. Now almost all the loans not only require a parent signature but many are almost all supported by private loan and parent plus. These need to be paid monthly immediately while you attend school. My loans were deferred until after I graduated so I did not have to pay until I was actually working with my degree. My parents had nothing to do with it. I don't even think they knew how much I paid! I paid every cent back. It took ten years but it was worth it for me and I was able to do it because it was deferred until graduation. I personally think the new rules are crazy.


I should add that if you and your husband think you woul be able and willing to repay the whole loan, plus interest, without your daughter's help, then it is really a judgment call on your part whether taking that risk would help your daughter in an appropriate way.

But if you aren't willing to repay the whole loan, I would say don't put your name on it then. We had a story in our local paper recently about a couple whose daughter was killed in an accident -- and of course they were stuck with her loan, because that was one of the possibilities they signed up for.


Yes that is the issue. My husband does not want to risk his retirement and feels that it won't be able to be paid in full without him continuing to work at his current level of salary which he plans to give up in 3 years. So, i really don't think we will sign. I just wish there was a way for her to obtain one on her own. Thanks for sharing that story. I can't help but feel for those poor folks.

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