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Are College Campuses Becoming Commuter Campuses?

When you take your child to college, you expect to see him or her on holidays and the occasional weekend, but for the most part, you think your kid will live at school.

That used to be the norm, but times are changing.

Now, more and more colleges are turning into commuter campuses or suitcase schools. Students stay on campus during the week, but as soon as their last class is over on Friday, they head home. Then, they don’t come back until Sunday night, just in time to get some rest before class the next morning.

This might not sound like a big deal, but it can lead to some major issues for parents and students.

The Cost of the Commute

When your child attends college, you can expect to pay quite a bit for room and board. The average cost is  about $10,440 for public colleges. It’s even worse if you send your child to a private school. Then, you can expect to pay $11,890 just for room and board. That’s a ton of money to just house and feed your son or daughter.  

If your child comes home every weekend, you will end up spending even more on top of that. Commuting back and forth isn’t cheap. You’ll have to pay for gas or plane and train tickets. You’ll also have to feed your child and pay for entertainment. Suddenly, instead of just paying for room and board for one place, you’ll be paying for two places. That can make college almost unaffordable.

The College Experience

You want your child to have the best college experience possible. You want him or her to make friends, join organizations, and become involved. Most of all, you want your child to create memories that will last for a lifetime.

That’s almost impossible to do if your child lives on a commuter campus.

Instead of enjoying the college experience, your child will spend his or her days staring at the calendar, waiting to go home.

Even if your child chooses to stay on campus during the weekends, the experience will be a bust since the campus will clear out.

That means your child won’t be able to make those lifelong friendships.

He or she won’t be exposed to new people and ideas and won’t be challenged in ways that allow for growth.

Instead, it will just be like high school all over again, and your child will likely be disappointed. That disappointment can even impact your child’s grades. If he or she isn’t engaged in campus life, it might be difficult to buckle down and make good grades.

How to Determine if a College Is a Suitcase School

Many students end up surprised to learn they have enrolled in a suitcase school. They might not have realized that the school was full of metro or international students who go home often, and they are left disappointed.

Fortunately, you can conduct a little research to find out if your child’s school of choice is a commuter school.

Look at the On-Campus Activities

If the school doesn’t have anything going on during the weekend, students are more likely to leave. They want to have a good time, after all, and if there is nothing to do, many will find fun elsewhere.

Peterson’s is a great resource for looking at on-campus activities. Type in the name of the school and look at the activities listed.

Also, go to the school’s website and see what type of activities and events it offers during the weekends. The more the better. Simply having movies, homecoming festivities, and picnics can keep students engaged throughout the year. That means students will be more likely to stay on campus, so they can have some fun.

Consider the Location

Colleges that are located in huge metro areas often attract students from that city. While it’s not always the case, oftentimes, those students will go home during the weekends.

However, if the college is far from the city, the commute will likely be much greater. It won’t be as easy for students to go home on the weekends, so many will stay on campus.

Find Out How Many Part-Time Students the School Has

Part-time students are much more likely to leave on the weekends. Actually, they might even leave midway through the week. Talk to a representative to find out how many full- and part-time students the school has. If the number of part-time students is low, it’s much less likely to be a commuter college. However, if it’s high, you might want to look elsewhere.

Visit the School

The best way to find out if a school is a commuter college is to pay it a visit. If possible, stay for a few days. Go down on a Thursday, so you can see what life is like during the week. Then, pay special attention on Friday. Do students start emptying out? Does the parking lot seem empty?

Saturday will provide the best indication of campus life. If it seems like a ghost town on Saturday, it’s likely not a good choice.

When you visit the school, don’t be afraid to question students. Ask them what campus life is like on the weekend. Do they stick around? What about their friends? Do they have enough to do?

Interviewing the students will help you see the whole picture. That will make it much easier to make a decision about the college.

Say No to Suitcase Schools

If you want to save money and ensure your child has the best college experience possible, you have to say no to commuter colleges. Yes, it will take a little bit of research to find out if the school is a commuter school, but it will be well worth the effort.

Your child will have a much better college experience, and you will save some money in the process. That’s a win for everyone involved.    I have a friend, now 35,  who said she went home almost every weekend.  Years later, she regretted this.  She knew she didn't let herself have the college experience she could have had.

I went to college in California - from Maryland.  Do you know when I went home?  Christmas and summertime.  That was it!  I didn't expect anything different.

A man I work with's daughter went to college in California.  They live in New Jersey.  He flew her home almost every other weekend!  Insane!  "Oh, no one is around on the weekend", she would say.  Boo hoo, I have no one to play with! I asked why she didn't get a job off campus?  That's a great way to meet people.   And make money.  But no.   

Editorial comment- if we never have our kids "feel" things they will never understand that they can solve their own problems.   Which, as I understand it, is part of growing up?

Celebrities who went to Community College

What do George Lucas, Amy Tan. Steve Jobs, Guy Fieri and Walt Disney have in common?

I bet you can guess, based on the title of this blog post.

The quick answer is “success.” Each of these men and women is incredibly successful.  And build great wealth.

Guess what else they have in common?

They all got their start at a community college.

That’s hard to believe, right? Community college has gotten such a bad rap over the years that kids do everything they can to avoid it. The truth is that it can be a great way to start the college experience. It didn’t slow these successful people down, and it won’t slow your child down, either.

6 Reasons Community College Is a Great Start

Still not convinced that community college is the way to go when your child graduates high school? Check out some reasons that community college is a great start.

Save Money on Tuition

You don’t want your child to be saddled with debt upon graduation, and that makes community college the smart choice. The average annual cost of tuition and fees for the 2017–18 school year was $3,570 for public, in-district community colleges, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. Compare that to $9,970 for public in-state colleges, and you can see that community college offers a huge savings.

In a mere two years, your child can save almost $13,000. The money saved can go toward tuition for the next couple of years of school.

Save Money on Room and Board

Parents often forget how expensive room and board is at college. The average cost for the 2017–18 school year was $10,800 for public four-year in-state schools, according to CollegeBoard. That’s more than $2,000 more than the average cost at a community college.

Your child can do much more than save $2,000 a year, though. He or she also has the option to live at home while attending community college. That way, your kid could save an extra $10,800 a year. That’s money in the bank you can use to pay for the last two years at a four-year university.

 Smaller Class Sizes

Students like to get individualized attention, but that can be close to impossible at a four-year school. Public schools tend to have large classes, so your child might be one of hundreds sitting in a lecture hall. There’s a good chance the instructor won’t even have a clue who your child is. He or she will just be a name among hundreds of names.

Community college classes tend to be much smaller. Classes are often the same size as they were in high school, so your child can ease into the college experience. He or she will get much-needed individualized attention at a community college. Plus, these colleges tend to offer tutors and other options to help kids who need even more attention.

By the time your child transfers to a four-year college, he or she will be ready to handle the coursework without the extra attention. That means your kid will be positioned for success. You want what’s best for your kid, and community college just might be it.

Flexible Schedule

If you’re still trying to save for a four-year college, your child might have to step in and help. That could mean getting a job during the first couple of years of school. Community colleges offer flexible schedules that include lots of night class options. This makes it much easier for your child to work and go to school. That money earned from working can help your kid pay for the last two years at a four-year college.

More Time to Choose a Major

When your child walks into a four-year college, he or she will meet with an advisor. The first question asked will be, “What’s your major?”

That’s an incredibly difficult decision for an 18-year-old to make. It’s hard to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life when you just finished high school.

If your child changes the major after a year or two, he or she might have to spend more time in school. That means even more money on tuition.

Attending a community college gives your child the time needed to explore options. He or she will get the general requirements out of the way during community college and then can choose the major. Think about how much easier it will be for your kid to choose a major at 20 as opposed to 18. It’s not just the age, either. After completing the general requirements, your child will also have a better idea of what he or she likes and doesn’t like at the college level.

More Time to Choose a Four-Year College

Your child will get a taste of college at a community college. Many have student groups and offer activities. Then, of course, your child will attend lots of classes. This taste of college life will make it easier for your child to decide on a four-year school. Instead of just choosing a school where his or her friends are going, your child will look at the various opportunities available at the school. It’s easy to make an informed decision on a school when you have time to evaluate your specific wants and needs.

Say Yes to Community College

Don’t let the stigma of community college hold your child back. These colleges have changed a lot over the years, and they provide many benefits that you can’t get at a four-year institution. Plus, once your child completes the two-year program, he or she can transfer to a four-year college. Talk to your kid about the possibility of going to a community college and explain the benefits. This could be the best option for your family.

Why you should avoid Parent Plus loans

You want your child to go to a good college. That is the number 1 item on your list. There’s just one problem.

College is really expensive.

Just how expensive is it?

The average cost for an in-state public school is $9,970 for the 2017–18 school year. If your child decides to go to an out-of-state school, the cost balloons to $25,620.

What about a private college? That comes to $34,740.

That’s scary on its own, but let’s dig a little bit deeper.

On average, parents have saved a mere $18,000 for college.

That’s about half what they need if their kids go to an in-state school.

Around 35 percent of parents haven’t saved anything at all.

Are you getting stressed yet? Well, it gets even worse when you look at the borrowing patterns many families follow.

The Debt Cycle — Step 1: Student Loans

When kids don’t have the money to pay for college, they typically look into student loans. “No big deal,” they think. “I’ll just borrow what I need and pay it back when I get that super-high-paying job as an artist.”

As you can imagine, those payments are hard to make, and it’s just expected to get worse. The default rate is expected to get close to 40 percent by 2023, making it clear that students are taking out way more than they can afford.

But that’s just part of the issue.

Students also can’t borrow all they need.

Most parents don’t realize that the government sets borrowing limits on college students. These limits change depending on the year the student is in.

For the first year, dependent students can’t borrow more than $5,500, and it goes up by a thousand dollars the next two years. It stays at $7,500 for the fourth year and beyond, as well.

There’s a catch, though. That’s the combined borrowing limit for subsidized and unsubsidized loans. During the first year of college, students can only take out $3,500 in subsidized loans, and that goes up by $1,000 the next two years. 

("Subsidized loans" means the government pays the interest while your child is in college.  "Unsubsidized loans" means the interest is added to the principal balance while you are in if you borrow $30k, by the time you graduate you already owe  quite a bit more!).   Guess which path most choose?   Yep, they add the interest to the balance.

That means the rest must be taken out in unsubsidized loans.

Students might end up turning to private loans to fund the rest of their college, but those loans are much more expensive. Plus, they are more difficult to get -and later, refinance.

This is where the second part of the debt cycle comes into play.

The Debt Cycle — Step 2: Enter Mom and Dad

As a parent, you want to save the day. You want to make sure your child goes to college, and you feel guilty or inadequate because you don’t have the money he or she needs.

That’s why you’ve thought about doing what should be unthinkable.

You’re considering taking out a Parent PLUS loan.

These loans are a huge mistake for so many reasons. First, there is the obvious reason that you will be taking on student debt as you get close to retirement. There are horror stories about parents trying to retire while owing six figures in Parent PLUS loans. Even five figures in Parent PLUS loans can prevent you from retiring.

Think of it this way. If you can’t afford the debt today, you cannot afford it when you retire. That means you’ll likely have to keep working to make those minimum payments for the lifetime of the loan. Lots of parents end up taking the loan out for 25 years, so that will put you a long way from retirement. That’s practically a mortgage, and you won’t even get your own degree out of it.

The only other option is to default on the loans, and that is an even bigger problem.

Getting into debt isn’t the only issue with these loans. They are much more expensive than other types of loans, so you will end up owing a lot more than you borrow.

At 7.6 percent interest, the interest rate is quite a bit higher than the 5.05 percent rate for direct subsidized loans. Plus, Parent PLUS loans are unsubsidized, so the interest kicks in right away. That means you will have to pay interest for the entire life of the loan.

The origination fee is also an issue. It’s 4.248 percent for PLUS loans and only 1.062 for direct subsidized loans. That’s a huge difference.

You would think that numbers like this would keep parents away from Parent PLUS loans, but that’s hardly the case. In fact, right now, 3.4 million people have Parent PLUS loans, owing $81.5 billion dollars. Yes, that is billion with a “B.”

The Home Equity Loan — An Even Worse Option

You have to pass a credit check to get a Parent PLUS loan. Those who don’t pass the check often do something that’s even worse.

They take out home equity loans to pay for college.

They basically borrow against their homes to pay for college.

There are a couple of problems with this. First, when you take the equity out of your home, you never know what could happen. If property values decline, you can be in serious trouble.

Plus, if have to relocate, you won’t have the money in your home anymore. You’ll basically just have to pay it off when you sell it, and then you’ll start from scratch somewhere else. That’s not what you want to do this close to retirement.

You also have to consider that the government has eliminated the tax deductions people used to get on home equity loans. That means you’ll end up paying back more now that you would have years ago.

The Solution

Parent PLUS and home equity loans are not the solution to your problem. Instead, you need to think smart when sending your child to college.

Look at other options for college. Send your child to a community college or have your child work at a company that offers tuition reimbursement. Your child can also take a gap year while saving for school.

Those are all excellent options if your child is about to leave for college. If you still have time, sign up for a financial planning workshop to get help saving for college.

Who will pay for what?

Talk to your child about who will pay for what. To avoid confusion.

Have you had this fun discussion with your teen yet?

With the fall semester of college underway, it is time to make sure that you and your college-ager are on the same page when it comes to a college budget.

You have already accounted for the cost of tuition, but you need to work with your teen to figure out how they will deal with other expenses that come up and how much support you will give them. 

As you work through the budget together, be sure to cover the following crucial points:

Will Your Teen Work While in College?

Start by determining whether you expect your teen to work while in college or just focus on their studies. My two cents - they should work.  Unless they are in law school, med school, or some other extremely expensive and taxing environment.  But let's face it, most of us have kids going to average schools. 

Don't tell yourself that their studies will suffer.  Studies show that students who work while going to school actually have higher GPAs. And students who have outside jobs get great work experience.  In fact, I used to work with a man who said he'd never hire anyone who didn't work while going to college.  No one wants a pampered employee, am I right?

If your child has to pay for his or her "discretionary" expenses, I guarantee you that they will be a lot more discretionary in their expenses!  $8 smoothies don't taste quite as good when you think of the hour you spent as a french fry jockey to earn the money.

Sweatshirts from the campus bookstore, Uber rides when they're just a bit too fatigued - you can bet they will be more frugal if it's their money at stake.  

Plus, the list of jobs kids can get today are so varied.  You don't have to have a car.  My first year at college I worked in the cafeteria.  Today's kids can be working as Virtual Assistants, selling on Etsy, tutoring via Zoom.  The world is at their feet!  

Who Pays for School-Related Expenses?

After going over whether your teen should work, it is time to break down each category of expenses one by one. As you go, set a budget for each and determine who will pay for these items.

First, decide whether you or your teen will be paying for the school-related expenses. Since you already accounted for tuition, this includes things like textbooks, their laptop, notebooks, pens, and other school supplies. Many parents choose to help their teen with these expenses as they are seen as necessities, but you will still want to set a budget. Your teen doesn’t need a a new laptop if he already has one.

Who Pays for Other Essentials?

Next, discuss other essentials that are not related to their education. Think of this as things like toiletries, housing, laundry detergent, and basic food items. In other words, it is the items that you would automatically pay for if your teen still lived at home. Because of the essential nature of these items, many parents do consider paying for the items but will set a budget to start teaching responsibility. Figure out how much your teen needs to spend on these items each month and let them know that this is what you will pay for. If they want luxury versions instead of store-brands, they must pay the difference.

Will the Teen Have a Car? Who Pays the Expenses?

Do not forget to consider whether your teen will have a car at school, as the cost of an auto can add up fast. Even if the auto is your old used car that is fully paid off, there are still regular expenses, like insurance, gas, maintenance, and parking. Because of those expenses, some parents will partially support their child having a car on campus, while others let their teens have a car only if they pay for it themselves. Once again, calculate how much this should cost every month, if it applies.

Who Pays for Extras?

One category that can become more complicated when budgeting is the extra non-essentials. This covers things like top-of-the-line smartphones, college football games, going out for meals or with friends, and taking an Uber instead of public transportation or driving. Most parents will not want to just fund all these things without a limit, as that is not feasible financially for most families and does not teach responsibility.

Instead, you will either want to set a maximum amount you will give your teen every month toward these extra expenses or expect them to cover the cost themselves with their job. Whether you pay for these non-essentials, work with your teen to set a budget, so they are realistic about spending and can develop financial responsibility.

Budgeting for Travel Between Home and School

The final aspect of your budget should be travel expenses between your home and the school. Start by figuring out how much it costs to get between the two locations, which can vary greatly depending on the distance and whether your teen will drive or fly. From there, figure out how many weekends a month your teen can reasonably afford to come home.

Who will pay for the travel expenses? If your teen has a car on campus and you live close, they will likely drive, so will you pay for gas? If the college is within driving distance but your teen does not have a car, will you drive to get them? Or do you expect them to save money by carpooling with someone? Consider all these factors and determine if they will just come home for holidays or more often.

Are Your Contributions Gifts, or Do You Expect Something in Return?

When discussing your teen’s college budget, you also need to make it clear whether the financial support you provide is a gift or if you expect something in return. This can go either way, with many parents seeing college-related expenses as a part of raising a child and, therefore, expecting nothing in return.

I think everyone should work.  At the very least, they can tell their kids how hard they had it.  wink wink.

Why Did College Become So Expensive?

You’ve likely heard the saying that 30 years ago, paying for college was like buying a car, but today, it’s like buying a house. That’s not just a soundbite. If you adjust prices to reflect inflation, students paid an average of $3,190 in tuition to attend a four-year institution for the 1987-88 school year. Fast forward 30 years to the 2017-18 school year, when students paid an average of $9,970.

You know that college is more expensive, but why? What makes college cost so much more today than it did just a few decades ago?

There isn’t a single answer to the question. Instead, the rising cost of tuition is based on various factors.

Common Theories

Let’s look at the common theories that people have put forth. First, of course, you’ve likely heard people attribute it to basic inflation. Inflation definitely impacts the cost of college, but as you can see from the example above, college prices have gone up dramatically even when adjusted for inflation. This theory is incorrect. Inflation is not responsible for the dramatic increase in tuition.

The next theory has to do with accessibility. Politicians want to make college more accessible for everyone, and that’s created two issues. First, in order to make college more accessible, the government had to make student loans easier to get. Now, just about anyone can get a student loan, regardless of income or credit score.

That brings us to the next issue. Because so many people are going to school, there is a supply and demand issue. Colleges were initially unable to accommodate all those people coming in with student loans, so they had to hire more staff. More staff means more overhead, and more overhead means higher tuition costs.

That’s a reasonable theory, and it’s partially why the country is in the middle of a student loan crisis.

The biggest reason that college is so expensive, though, has to do with the amenities. The colleges of today are not the colleges of yesteryear. Now, people expect more and more with their college experience, and that’s driving the prices up.

Luxurious Campus Syndrome

College students today suffer from something called “luxurious campus syndrome.” They expect their campuses to have the same amenities you’d find at a 5-star resort. They are technically there to get an education, but, they want the 5-star treatment at every turn, and that costs money.

Let’s look at all the factors that contribute to this dangerous syndrome.

College Dorms – All the Comforts of Home at a Price You Can’t Afford

Do you remember when you were in college? The dorms were nothing to write home about. They were cramped, the lighting was bad, and the bathrooms were disgusting. Yet, you dealt with it, because that’s what was expected at college. You weren’t there to enjoy a vacation. You were there to learn.

Well, that has changed quite a bit. Now, students get all the comforts of home when they’re away at the dorm, and it costs money.

Take Ivy House and Windsor Hall at the University of Florida in Gainesville, for instance. Dubbed “luxury dorms,” these are not the dorms of the old days. The female-only Ivy House has private jetted Jacuzzis, a sun deck, and a gourmet kitchen. Oh, and then there’s the opulent living room that has a big-screen TV and a fireplace. With all those amenities, how in the world can kids have the time to study?

The Windsor House is a coed dorm complete with luxury bathrooms that are even larger than the ones in the Ivy House. These dorms also have kitchenettes in them. Apparently, the days of microwaving ramen in the dorm rooms are over. Now, kids can cook a full meal in between studying for classes.

That’s just one example. The University of Chicago’s Max Palevsky Residential Commons consists of eight “houses,” and each one has its own personality. The dorm has its own courtyard, dining hall, and a basement for everyone to share. It even has music practice rooms.

Here’s the best one. The University of Texas at Austin is home to the Callaway House. This dorm offers an absurd number of amenities. Can you imagine having a rooftop pool and hot tub at your dorm? How about a game room and a theater room? Then, of course, the staff is on call 24/7 just in case anything comes up.

As you can see, these are no longer dorms. They are luxury resorts, and parents and their children are paying the price.

Campus Gyms – A “Free Amenity” Is More Expensive Than Ever

Next, colleges are going bigger and better with their gyms. Fitness centers are nothing new to college life. Most colleges have some sort of place for students to work out, but in the past, these gyms were anything but extraordinary. You would find some free weights, maybe a few machines, and if you were lucky, your gym had a track. That was basically the extent of it.

gym with climbing walls

Guess what? That has changed dramatically.

The University of Maine might be the biggest offender when it comes to opulent gyms. The university put $25 million into its 87,000-square-foot fitness center. It has floor-to-ceiling windows, which is a departure from the fitness centers of the old days that barely had enough light to see the free weights. The rock-climbing wall helps the kids stay in shape, or they can utilize the 140 pieces of equipment.

The crown jewel is the indoor aquatic complex, though. With a lap pool, coed sauna, and a hot tub big enough for 20 people, it’s amazing these kids have enough time to do anything but soak in the water. Oh, but when they do want to get out, they can rent snowshoes or cross-country skis from the center and hit the trails. Can you imagine having all that in college?

That gym sure does sound nice, but think about that price tag. If a school pays $25 million on a gym, it has to get the money back somehow, and that is where those high tuition prices come into play. There is no such thing as a truly “free” amenity in college.

And did I mention waterparks?  And lazy rivers?  There is actually an article comparing the best 

Cafeterias – 5-Star Cooking at College

College cafeterias used to have some pretty bad food. In fact, there were times when it was hard to get meals down. It seemed like the food had been warmed up over 100 times by the time it finally made it to your tray. Sometimes, it felt like the food was older than you were.

Still, even though the food wasn’t good, you ate it because that’s all you had. You just tried to imagine your mom’s homecooked meals while stuffing the overcooked chicken down your throat.

Now, though, students don’t have to worry about finding good food at college. Cafeterias are so much better than ever before, and many have gone a little too far.

Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, is the perfect example of how far schools have gone when it comes to dining. This college offers gourmet dishes in the dining hall. Can you imagine getting Asian-style pork with duck sauce or mussels at the campus cafeteria? Well, you can here. The college even has lobster bakes that include fresh lobsters and other seafood options. Lobster isn’t cheap, and the idea of having a lobster bake at college is borderline ridiculous.

Then, it has its own on-campus café. Forget the Freshmen 15 at this school. It might turn into the Freshman 50 with all that good eating.

The Complete Luxurious Experience – Amenities at Every Turn

Some schools don’t just offer nice dorm rooms or great food. They have a little bit of everything, creating a resort-like atmosphere at a price most people can’t afford.

High Point University in High Point, North Carolina, is the perfect example of the 5-star resort experience some universities are offering. It underwent a $700 million campus renovation, and now it offers everything you would want when you’re on vacation, but these kids get it while in school.

The residence halls have pools and restaurants, and you can play basketball and volleyball without leaving home. Oh, and one of the dorms even lets people live with their pets. Seriously. Students are allowed to share dorm rooms with their pets. That is insane.

Then there’s the campus movie theater. The students get free tickets and concessions, but are those amenities really free? It also has an arcade, plus its own steakhouse. Students can use their meal plans to get a five-course meal once a week.

All of this for around 4,000 students.

As you can imagine, those 4,000 students pay a hefty price tag to go to this school. Tuition is $35,118, and the room and dining plan is $14,130. That doesn’t leave much money for books, does it?

Football – The Pastime Gets Expensive

Football and college have gone together for generations, but it used to be a fun game to watch with your friends. Now, it’s a big business. Colleges want to have the best football programs to bring in students, and that costs money.

The University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban makes a whopping $11.1 million, with a potential bonus of $700,000. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is the second-highest paid college coach at $8.5 million. Don’t feel bad for Swinney. He has a potential bonus of $1 million.

How do you think these college coaches get paid? Sure, the programs bring in money, but it’s highly likely that tuition supports a lot of those salaries. It costs to go to a school with a top-notch football program. Cheering the team on might be fun, but writing those tuition checks sure isn’t.

The Unintended Consequences – Drowning in Debt

These amenities are wonderful, but there is an unintended consequence. Student loans are out of control.

Student loan debt has reached $1.48 trillion in the United States. That’s trillion, with a “T.”

That debt is divided among 44.2 million Americans.

Sadly, many cannot afford to pay their student loans. There is a delinquency rate of 11.2 percent. That’s a scary statistic. Colleges cannot take the degrees back from the student when they don’t pay their loans, so what is going to happen? The student loan bubble is likely about to burst. Remember what happened when the housing bubble burst? That was catastrophic. It could be even worse when the student loan bubble bursts.

That’s all terrifying, but do you want to know the most troubling static?

Parent Plus loans have reached the $88 billion mark. These loans have the highest interest rates and origination fees of all the student loans, and that’s why so many parents are carrying student loan debt into retirement.

Ask yourself this. If you didn’t have the money to save for college in advance, are you going to have the money to pay those loans off in the future?

The answer is no. That means if you take out these loans, you’re likely to end up paying on them well into your golden years. Is that really how you want to spend your retirement?

Make Smart Decisions

Parents and students need to come together and make smart choices about college. Your coed does not need a swimming pool on the roof or a 5-course meal. He or she can also leave Fido at home instead of bringing the pup into the dorm.

These amenities are not free. You pay for them now, or you pay for them later with student loans. Either way, you are wasting your money when you get all these amenities.

The student loan bubble will likely burst, and soon, families will be forced into making smarter decisions. Be a leader instead of a follower. Make smart decisions now so you won’t have to worry about it later.

If you aren’t sure how to pay for college without taking out loans, enroll in a virtual workshop and get the information you need. That way, you won’t drown in debt to fund a four-year degree.

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