I am back after a bit of time being focused on the basics in life.. like working so I could pay my bills and get myself out of debt. Education is a costly thing here in the United States- where the majority of government support comes in the form of loans not grants or scholarships.
I graduated with my BA in May of 2009.. and Alhamdulillah.. my level of debt is much smaller than the majority of my fellow alumni and other fresh fodder for the work force. According to the December 9th 2009, article in the New York Times, the average amount of debt for a graduating college student is $23,200. That is a lot of money. This of course is the average not account for outliers like those graduating from private universities or those who have wealthy enough parents that they cover the cost of their education.
However there are ways to move these mountains of debt.
First everyone needs a plan.. hopefully for before you jump in the deep end of debt. Most people go into to debt one of two ways. For educational purposes or with a credit card(s). Now in my case its from both these sources- lets just say in regards to the credit card thing- I went a little crazy.
But I had a plan for the educational debt- and how to keep it to manageable level before I started my undergrad. Across the United States, there are wonderful gateways to higher education called Community Colleges. I have no idea if they have similar things in Europe or other parts of the world. However these Community Colleges are worth their weight in gold. Why? Because they are a proving ground- a proving ground and safety net that allow students of all ages the ability to access the University of their dreams.
The first reason I recommend them is the cost factor. They are reasonably priced even if the textbooks are not. It is so much cheaper to fail a class at community college then at a university- no comparison. It’s also cheaper because you can live at home for the first two years- no paying rent or for food.
Secondly, the teachers at community colleges are more hands on, willing to help and give you advice to improve yourself as a student before you get dropped into the shark infested pool called University.
Third, it helps you figure out what you are passionate about and give you more time to apply for scholarships and grants.
Finally, the thing no guidance counselors tell you is that if you attend two years of community college following the curriculum from the Dream University of your choice. You will have no need for SAT’s or ACT’s because your academic record speaks for itself – of course this means you need to keep at least a B average with some extra activities or clubs thrown in like debate or chess.
So finally when you apply for that dream school- you have two less years of money you owe or just a lot less debt if you end up taking loans for the Community College as well.
As for the credit card debt- my plan is double the minimum payment and add any other money I can afford in addition to the double amount each month. So far so good. Insha’Allah by July 2010.. No more debt of any kind.