Don't Sign Your Soul Over To Student Loan Debt

Welcome to the American Dream. To follow that dream, you borrow heavily to get the education you need for your chosen career, in the mistaken belief that you will be able to get a better-paying job in that career once your education is completed, and repay the loans. Borrowing the money for education isn’t always an investment in yourself–often, it’s committing yourself to decades of commitment to a debt that is difficult to discharge or negotiate when you encounter a bad job market or other hard times.

The Wall Street Journal shares the story of a doctor whose personal life is on hold because of her student loan debt that more than doubled while she deferred payments to complete her training. As students who borrowed huge sums of money for their educations enter the workforce, and find themselves un- or underemployed, they struggle to repay their student loans.

But as tuitions rise, many people are borrowing heavily to pay their bills. Some no doubt view it as “good debt,” because an education can lead to a higher salary. But in practice, student loans are one of the most toxic debts, requiring extreme consumer caution and…responsibility.

Unlike other kinds of debt, student loans can be particularly hard to wriggle out of. Homeowners who can’t make their mortgage payments can hand over the keys to their house to their lender. Credit-card and even gambling debts can be discharged in bankruptcy. But ditching a student loan is virtually impossible, especially once a collection agency gets involved. Although lenders may trim payments, getting fees or principals waived seldom happens.

You can repossess a car or foreclose on a house, but it’s impossible to take back knowledge. (At least with our current technology.)

The $555,000 Student-Loan Burden [Wall Street Journal]

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