People interested in attending college are faced with many big decisions, including what field to study, where to attend college, and if you’ll live on or off campus. One of the most important decisions students must make is evaluating if a college degree a worthwhile financial investment, and if so, how you will pay for your education. Most people don’t argue the value of a college degree when it comes time to look for a job, but the cost of that degree has become increasingly expensive. In fact, once inflation has been accounted for, a college education costs 250% more than it did 30 ago. In 2013, approximately 70% of students graduated with student loan debt, with an average balance of $28,400 in a variety of student loan types. Before taking on any new debt, it’s always a good idea to consider how this new responsibility will affect you, not only financially, but also related to your mental and physical health.

What Leads to Stress?

It makes sense that being in any kind of significant debt would be stressful, but student loan debt comes with some unique consequences. Overall, students with high levels of student loan debt reported more stress, depression, and anxiety, along with overall decreased health, when compared to their fellow graduates without student loan debt. The degree of these negative consequences did have a few variables that made a difference. Students with a two-year degree versus a four-year degree seemed to struggle more. There were also differences based on the type of degree earned and the field of study pursued. One of the most significant contributors to mental health of graduates was connected to the income level of their family of origin. Students with a high level of student loan debt whose family of origin was lower income seem to suffer less under the weight of student debt. This could be because their education allowed them to improve their situation or it could be their personality traits that enabled them to complete a college education, despite hurdles and challenges of their upbringing. Higher amounts of debt without significant income or assets creates the most stress, usually regardless of the origin or type of debt. But unlike other kinds of debt, student loans usually lead to a higher socioeconomic status, which makes the debt manageable and mitigates stress over making payments. The exception to this would be when a student does not finish their degree or program; they still have debt, but do not have the credentials to warrant a higher paying job to make the payments manageable.

A Good Investment

Many studies show that regardless of the resulting debt, a college education is a priceless investment. A four-year degree is one of the best ways to protect yourself from unemployment and increase the chances that you’ll enjoy your job. While having student loan debt when you’re first starting out in your career can be challenging, there are many Payment Plans that can keep your monthly payments manageable if you create and stick to a budget. By utilizing these payment plans and looking into options such as Loan forgiveness having student loan debt doesn’t need to be a risk to your health and happiness. If you’re considering a college education, be sure to fill out the FAFSA and work with your school’s financial aid office, and if you’re already in student loan debt and are struggling to keep up, give me a call so that we can explore your options.

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