College costs — and student debt — keep growing

By Greg Mattacola
Posted 7/7/19

High school graduation season is upon us. Nationwide, graduating seniors are walking across the stage to receive their diploma while nervously anticipating the next phase of their lives. For a great …

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College costs — and student debt — keep growing

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High school graduation season is upon us. Nationwide, graduating seniors are walking across the stage to receive their diploma while nervously anticipating the next phase of their lives. For a great many of them, that next step involves some sort of college or university. These grads are not the only nervous ones in this equation. Parents everywhere are losing sleep at the sticker shock of college and wondering just how much financial help they will be able to give their children.

And rightfully so. Depending on which data/survey you read, the average national cost of college for 2017/2018 was approximately $21,000 per year for public schools and $50,000 per year for private schools – with many schools, depending on residency, the program/course of study and ranking, costing significantly more.

These prices make it nearly impossible for most households to simply write a check or to save enough for their child’s education. Which, in turn, leads to borrowing and student loans – lots of them in fact. Student loan debt in 2019 is the highest it’s ever been and is now the second highest consumer debt, behind only mortgage debt and is ahead of auto loans and credit cards. Borrowers in the Class of 2017, on average, owe almost $30,000, again, with many owing far more than that. There is $1.5 trillion of student loan debt in this country.It is leading to a new class of educated, working, poor – young adults, with college degrees, who are employed, but because of the weight of their student loans, can barely afford to live.

The next column will speak to ways to save and fund your child’s college education. But first, long before your graduate gets handed the sheepskin, do a deep dive and honestly evaluate whether this very expensive journey is indeed right for him or her at this time. Many guidance counselors would have every student and parent alike believe that a four-year college education is the answer for everyone. But there is no one thing that is perfect for everyone, to be sure.

Perhaps your senior just isn’t ready academically or emotionally to be on their own somewhere. Perhaps they have zero inkling of what they want to study. Perhaps they are simply more mechanically inclined and would flourish in a skilled trade. Maybe a gap year is the answer. Maybe a community college for two years to mature and narrow down a field of study. Or maybe it’s training/certification in a skilled labor. The point is this – before signing on for a mountain of debt, make certain that this path is indeed your child’s path and that he or she is not just following the herd.$200,000 of debt is a mortgage payment on a very nice home in Central New York – versus living with their parents because they afford their own home due to student loan debt.Do the evaluation – it is a worthwhile expenditure of time.

Lastly, on the heels of last week’s column about living your best life, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the passing of Joe Ryan, a writer for this paper and more importantly a man who loved his wife, four boys, family and community fiercely. He was my elementary school basketball coach and always had a kind word for all – a true gentleman.Joe exemplified living his best life, spending every moment he could with his family, golfing or at his camp.Rest in peace Joe; Rome has lost one of its most loyal sons. To repeat last week’s mantra – nothing is guaranteed, live well, live with love. Until next time.

Original content provided by Gregory Mattacola, Esq., Financial Advisor at Strategic Financial Services.

Content is provided for educational purposes only and should not be used as the basis upon which to make investment or financial decisions.

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