Skip Trudeaun gives an in-depth look at college loans and the financial responsibility that comes with them.
Q: What must we keep in mind as we consider loans?
A: First off, it's helpful to remember that college is an investment in your child's future. Even though loans are a growing reality for most families, it's possible to manage your amount of debt. Here's my student loan rule of thumb: Less is better. Explore every potential funding source you can find—scholarships, grants, personal savings, work-study, etc.—to help limit the amount you have to borrow.
Talk to the financial aid directors of schools you're considering. They will do all they can to help you explore other aid options. If you should need loans, they can offer you guidance on what kinds of loans to consider and what kind of loans to avoid.
You should never take out a student loan without first thinking through the long-range implications—such as ability to pay. Will the job he gets after graduation supply enough income to pay back loans in a reasonable amount of time? The fact that medical doctors can afford larger loan payments than social workers may seem harsh, but it is reality. This doesn't mean your son should avoid service-oriented jobs or a career in full-time ministry. But he simply must keep his potential earning power in mind.
And don't keep any of these financial realities from your college-bound child. You need to involve him in the entire process and he needs to be seen as a "full partner" in paying off the college investment. In doing so, he'll grow in his understanding of what it costs to fund a college education.
Finally, pray about this. Money is such a huge issue and can cause so much stress and tension in a family. So pray for and with your son about this issue. Ask for God's guidance and wisdom—trusting that he will provide for your needs and guide you to the best options for funding your son's education.
Written by Skip Trudeaun