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Magicklore
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22 Dec 2021, 4:14 pm

I recently just passed my GED and I'd like to go to college, but I'm in a really difficult money situation. I've struggled to hold jobs in the past but I worry that if I pursue college that I'm going to end up with inescapable debt. I know I struggle with customer service and that's essentially the only thing I'm qualified for without a college education. I don't want to work a sh***y job forever but I also don't want to risk being in debt for my whole life.



Texasmoneyman300
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22 Dec 2021, 6:12 pm

I would advise you to stay away from any student loans at all costs since they are only forgiven when you die.



uncommondenominator
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22 Dec 2021, 6:17 pm

I got my AA and my BAS entirely using grants that didn't need to be repaid. I haven't had to touch a loan until I got to graduate school.

Fill out a FAFSA application, and see what you're eligible for.



MaxE
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22 Dec 2021, 6:26 pm

There are plenty of different jobs you could train for without a 4 year college degree. You should go to the local community college and talk to a career counselor. Are you up to doing physical work? You could maybe train for EMT work or something similar. None of those things should put you in serious debt .


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shortfatbalduglyman
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03 Jan 2022, 5:28 pm

Trade school

Scholarship

Grants

Berea college

College of the Ozarks

West point

Community college



Blue_Star
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04 Jan 2022, 12:51 am

See if your state has any free worker training. By that I mean we have a program where our state will cover the cost of a person's certificate/training as long as they don't already have any college degree or certificate. I can't do it because I've got certificates, one from a uni & one from the cc, but my husband could even tho he's had some college (no degrees or certificates awarded). They've got everything from CDL training, IT stuff, medical training (incl insurance coding certificate), office stuff, logistics, etc. The downside is that the program is that it's only full-time (no part-time options unless the program is only offered that way, such as the CDL training).

Also, check your state to see if it has any tuition or credit agreements with surrounding states. It'll likely be online, but you may have more options of degree subjects & flexibility in scheduling. I was really surprised by how close some of those costs mirror in-state options. I'm looking to go this route because our cc system has practically married one of the book publishers; all courses and content are included in the course fees, but there isn't any real instructor customization of the course or interaction during. I have zero interest in supporting expensive textbook publisher online learning environments, because from what I've taken they're mostly crap & busy work.



AngelRho
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16 Feb 2022, 7:02 pm

Stay away from student loans. Unless you are on a career track that requires a college degree, like teachers/professors, lawyers, physicians, and that kind of thing, you don't necessarily NEED a college degree to do pretty much whatever you want. I have a master's degree in music composition. Has it won me any awards or commissions? Not a single one. And my income is sufficiently low that on the IBR program I haven't paid one red cent of loans in over 10 years. Since I'd been teaching for 5 years, I got $5k knocked off. I had over $50k total. And that's just MY loans. If I can just stay poor for another 10 years or so, I can have all my loans forgiven.

You want to imagine what life is like when you're actually feeling PRESSURED to stay in poverty?

If at all possible, we're hoping and working towards a situation where we make enough money to pay it all off in 2-3 years. Once the loans are forgiven, it's considered income. That means we'll be assessed taxes based on nearly $100,000 income in a single year. We depend heavily on tax credits and refunds to plan for the next fiscal year. That's the only way we've survived and lived as comfortably as we have for the past decade.

And all for, what? The accomplishment of a degree in music composition? When the air conditioner goes out for the 4th time THIS YEAR and we end up having to tough out blistering-hot summers in the Mississippi delta for years to come, you see just how well that degree works. Or when the lawn mower breaks down AGAIN and you're shoulders high in cat tails as it is. Or said cat tails are the result of a septic system that has completely broken down. Or the car that was your pride and joy in college has an irreparable leak on top of the engine, so you're never sure you'll make it to your destination without your car catching fire--so you end up abandoning it instead of trying to trade it in for a more reliable one. Or you get stuck in dead end jobs hoping MAYBE this year things will get better. But maybe you can cut some corners, maybe buy in bulk when you DO get some money--only to have your flour and rice bags become infested with insects because you can't afford an exterminator.

I'm not telling you a sob story because I feel like a victim and want pity. I made stupid choices, I have to live with them. I'm grateful that in spite of these bad choices we've learned hard lessons and, 3 years ago, made leaps of faith to break out of the cycle of poverty we were in. We are 7 people living in a 3-bedroom house and are enjoying life to the fullest. But we went through a lot of suffering to get where we are. Yeah, we're still poor, make no mistake, but we're seeing the needle move after so many years on a hamster wheel. The student loans and college education thing is a lie. Don't let anyone convince you it's anything but.

What you should do: Find a job with good on-the-job training. Keep as steady an income as you can, live an austere lifestyle, put as much money as possible into bankrolling your education. Shoot for a trade school or community college. If you play a musical instrument, you might likely get half your tuition paid for by scholarship, and there are other opportunities, of course, if you can participate in activities. You might try a semester on followed by a semester off of school, but in the end you'll complete a course of study leading to a certificate or degree that you can use to jump-start your career. As an example of what I do, I'll work for a few years until my credentials expire. In the weeks prior to the expiration date, I enroll in a 3-credit college course, renew my license, wait a few weeks, enroll in another one, and get a 5-year extension. That's ten years I can teach without having to worry about accumulating CEU's. It's economical, I have plenty of time other teachers don't get because they have to waste time on boring workshops, and I can acquire new skills and new outlooks that MIGHT lead to an enhanced career path and better pay. No school ever paid for my coursework: I paid for it out of my own pocket. And that ability has allowed me MUCH more freedom that what a lot of people enjoy in the same career field.

The irony of it all is it's entirely possible that I could tack all these things onto my current loans by applying for financial aid. I simply refuse to do it. I could ask for a break in my student loan "payments." Not interested. We've learned to live the kind of lifestyle that allows us tremendous freedom even while we have crushing debt hanging over us at all times. It's not always easy. It's not always fun. We don't get to go eat out at restaurants as much as other people do. We don't get to do a lot of things other people do just for fun, like rollerskating, bowling, and movies. We don't have much of a social life at all. Our kids aren't allowed to date--too much at stake to let romantic relationships become a distraction. It's cruel, but that's reality. Had we made better decisions or handled our debts more wisely earlier on, I probably wouldn't be saying any of this. We learned these hard lessons. I hope you don't have to.

tl;dr version: If you can't pay for it in cash, you can't afford it. If you can't afford it, it's not worth it.



Minervx_2
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19 Feb 2022, 9:18 am

You should be terrified of them. Go for a community college or a public university - not private. See what you can do to get scholarships.

Also, college isn't the only route. You can go for a trade or a certification in something.



jenniferdehner
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05 May 2022, 7:35 am

AngelRho wrote:
Stay away from student loans. Unless you are on a career track that requires a college degree, like teachers/professors, lawyers, physicians, and that kind of thing, you don't necessarily NEED a college degree to do pretty much whatever you want. I have a master's degree in music composition. Has it won me any awards or commissions? Not a single one. And my income is sufficiently low that on the IBR program I haven't paid one red cent of loans in over 10 years. Since I'd been teaching for 5 years, I got $5k knocked off. I had over $50k total. And that's just MY loans. If I can just stay poor for another 10 years or so, I can have all my loans forgiven.

You want to imagine what life is like when you're actually feeling PRESSURED to stay in poverty?

If at all possible, we're hoping and working towards a situation where we make enough money to pay it all off in 2-3 years. Once the loans are forgiven, it's considered income. That means we'll be assessed taxes based on nearly $100,000 income in a single year. We depend heavily on tax credits and refunds to plan for the next fiscal year. That's the only way we've survived and lived as comfortably as we have for the past decade.

And all for, what? The accomplishment of a degree in music composition? When the air conditioner goes out for the 4th time THIS YEAR and we end up having to tough out blistering-hot summers in the Mississippi delta for years to come, you see just how well that degree works. Or when the lawn mower breaks down AGAIN and you're shoulders high in cat tails as it is. Or said cat tails are the result of a septic system that has completely broken down. Or the car that was your pride and joy in college has an irreparable leak on top of the engine, so you're never sure you'll make it to your destination without your car catching fire--so you end up abandoning it instead of trying to trade it in for a more reliable one. Or you get stuck in dead end jobs hoping MAYBE this year things will get better. But maybe you can cut some corners, maybe buy in bulk when you DO get some money--only to have your flour and rice bags become infested with insects because you can't afford an exterminator.

I'm not telling you a sob story because I feel like a victim and want pity. I made stupid choices, I have to live with them. I'm grateful that in spite of these bad choices we've learned hard lessons and, 3 years ago, made leaps of faith to break out of the cycle of poverty we were in. We are 7 people living in a 3-bedroom house and are enjoying life to the fullest. But we went through a lot of suffering to get where we are. Yeah, we're still poor, make no mistake, but we're seeing the needle move after so many years on a hamster wheel. The student loans and college education thing is a lie. Don't let anyone convince you it's anything but.

What you should do: Find a job with good on-the-job training. Keep as steady an income as you can, live an austere lifestyle, put as much money as possible into bankrolling your education. Shoot for a trade school or community college. If you play a musical instrument, you might likely get half your tuition paid for by scholarship, and there are other opportunities, of course, if you can participate in activities. You might try a semester on followed by a semester off of school, but in the end you'll complete a course of study leading to a certificate or degree that you can use to jump-start your career. As an example of what I do, I'll work for a few years until my credentials expire. In the weeks prior to the expiration date, I enroll in a 3-credit college course, renew my license, wait a few weeks, enroll in another one, and get a 5-year extension. That's ten years I can teach without having to worry about accumulating CEU's. It's economical, I have plenty of time other teachers don't get because they have to waste time on boring workshops, and I can acquire new skills and new outlooks that MIGHT lead to an enhanced career path and better pay. No school ever paid for my coursework: I paid for it out of my own pocket. And that ability has allowed me MUCH more freedom that what a lot of people enjoy in the same career field.

The irony of it all is it's entirely possible that I could tack all these things onto my current loans by applying for financial aid. I simply refuse to do it. I could ask for a break in my student loan "payments." Not interested. We've learned to live the kind of lifestyle that allows us tremendous freedom even while we have crushing debt hanging over us at all times. It's not always easy. It's not always fun. We don't get to go eat out at restaurants as much as other people do. We don't get to do a lot of things other people do just for fun, like rollerskating, bowling, and movies. We don't have much of a social life at all. Our kids aren't allowed to date--too much at stake to let romantic relationships become a distraction. It's cruel, but that's reality. Had we made better decisions or handled our debts more wisely earlier on, I probably wouldn't be saying any of this. We learned these hard lessons. I hope you don't have to.

tl;dr version: If you can't pay for it in cash, you can't afford it. If you can't afford it, it's not worth it.


I agree with you and agree with every word. You've got a whole article on this topic.



SpaceMartian
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17 May 2022, 4:54 pm

Uni is a scam. You pay a fortune, get in debt for years in exchange for incompetent teachers, no real world experience, nothing guaranteed, and get treated like a trash bag. I left for that very same reason. Today you can learn anything on the internet.
But first things first, college or not, you need to know what you want to do or become. First figure that out, if you don't know, maybe exploring some stuff may help or ask here on WP about it. Once you sort of know what you want to do, explore what path you have and can realistically follow.
I'd run away from loans as if they were the devil himself, even tobacco seems like a good deal compared to a student load. UGH.



AngelRho
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28 Jun 2022, 9:23 am

LuciaLarsen wrote:
My sister had a loan, and it was the most stressful thing in her life. I don't have such an experience, but as far as I know, having it makes your life more complicated

It really does, and we don’t think about it when we’re 18 and just realizing our freedom.

I don’t normally have nice things to say about liberal administrations, but under Obama and now Biden our government has made strides to make student debt less of a burden. I still don’t think universal cancellation of student debt is the answer, but more should be done to make students fully aware of the realities of student debt.

Public service and teacher loan forgiveness still requires a looooooong record of service. It’s a commitment that starts on your first day of school and will impact every decision you make for the next two and a half decades. What if you decide public sector work isn’t right for you? You’re trapped and have little hope for better income. Or if you’re locked in IDR and every penny you make has a name on it—food, rent, basic utilities and necessities and you get a raise? IDR kicks in and suddenly you have extra payments to make and risk having LESS money to spend on basic necessities. What if you want to get married, have children? The good news is IDR accounts for all that, which raises the limit on your income, but still. The bad news is for you to enjoy your income you have to make significantly more money, and that’s just not realistic for most of us. In other words, you’re penalized for getting rich or trying, and if you just stay poor for 30 years, your loan goes away. Oh, and THEN they count your loan forgiveness as taxable income. Can you imagine in one year going from making MAYBE $50k to maybe $100k or more and having to pay taxes on it? Without any savings or safety net? $100k magically appeared as income and you have NOTHING to pay taxes with?

Biden (you don’t normally see me write much positive about Biden) has narrowed down some policies that, once enforced, will ease the pain. Loan servicers are corrupt and incompetent. They’ve mishandled deferment and forbearance to prevent borrowers from making qualified payments towards loan forgiveness, and they’ve ACTIVELY kept borrowers away from information that would help them reduce payments and qualify for loan forgiveness. Republican policymakers fail against loan forgiveness, but the truth is paths towards forgiveness have been in place since before I was in college over 20 years ago. Servicers and government agencies have worked to prevent us from actually fulfilling our obligations and protected themselves against keeping their own promises.

I’m angry about it. It IS complicated. It had made our lives hell.

Without exaggerating, what has it been like? Honestly, it’s not difficulty.

Step 1: Be poor. At one point I was working 3 part time jobs while my wife was working 1 full time and later 1 full time plus 1 part time. We never made more than $30k combined, plus we had 3 kids.

Step 2: Stay on top of your paperwork. Back in the day this meant printing out tax returns and mailing it to the loan servicer. Now it just means pushing a button on the IRS website. It’s a much easier and more reliable than it used to be.

Step 3: Mark your calendar. You have a 1-month window to recertify IDR. They won’t accept anything before that, and if you wait more than a month AFTER your due date, they automatically switch you to a normal repayment plan. I don’t know if the rule is the same now, but back in the day if you skipped out on a year of payments, they put you in default.

My wife actually did end up in default at one point. We just kept kicking the can because the servicer was being unreasonable and it was too confusing to get out of. Normally my wife handles all our finances. I decided to take over the loans, meaning I had access to her email, I set up all the online accounts and passwords for gov websites, EVERYTHING. It took a few days, but after playing with the websites a few times I figured out how to get our paperwork in, co-sign for my wife’s loans, and recertify IDR. And then I had to go through the entire process a SECOND time where I logged into her accounts and repeat the process for her where she has to co-sign for me. I’ve got this down to an art. It’s a well-oiled machine now. It inconveniences me for 15, maybe 30 minutes once a year. And then we hold our breath for a few weeks until we get approval. Then we mark our calendars and wait another year.

It’s not so much that our day-to-day lives revolve around loans. We don’t live like we have loans. It means that we can’t think about getting better jobs and more income without worrying about what would happen if suddenly we had to pay more and whether a bump in income would allow for that. When you have loans, you don’t simply get to enjoy life and work. You live and work for the purpose of repaying loans. The only loans you should ever have to worry about is your mortgage because a) 30-year fixed rate is cheaper than rent, and b) affordable mortgages can turn into valuable investments if you ever find yourself unable to sell one of your properties. We can afford two mortgages right now at fairly low risk, and we’re about to buy a second home. We’re not rich. It’s just the market right now makes it easier for us. If things don’t work out for us, we’ll make our other house a vacation house or Air BnB. Maybe even a rental. That’s just life and trying to have a place to live when you need to move with the job. The up side is if you pay 30 years on houses, you accumulate equity. Student loans? You still have…a piece of paper and a whole lot of head knowledge you probably could have just gotten off Wikipedia and YouTube. What’s better, taking out a high risk loan for a piece of paper that they’re could to garnish your wages for with nothing to show for it other than you “know stuff,” or a low risk loan that, worst case scenario you put up for sale, best case you accumulate equity and ultimately ownership of tangible, real property? Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Of course, the dark side of a mortgage is cost of ownership. Our first house sprung a leak after an appliance installation that wasn’t done properly, ruining a Pergo floor that we replaced with slate tile and hardwood. Then the HVAC went out. Like, every week. Our second house we paid cash for, but we had issues. Our third house needs a little work, but at worst we had to fix an HVAC problem where the condensation wasn’t draining, so we got a nasty leak in our dining room. The brick/mortar piers are breaking down and need to be wrapped and the wiring needs to be updated. If we weren’t moving, we’d set aside the money to fix it. Our next house is structurally better than our current one. The floors need to be replaced, along with some other minor tweaks. But…it was built in 1901, so what do you expect, right?

My point is, there are good reasons to go into debt and bad reasons to go into debt. If debt is a tool to keep you productive and living a good life, then it’s a good thing. If you can manage risk and are realistic about your income, if you have high self esteem and insist on being paid what you know you’re worth, and you’re a reliable, hard worker, buying real estate is just smart. If you’ve never worked a day in your life and you want a loan to pursue empty hopes and dreams, your loans will be nothing but a drain on you for the rest of your life. It’s like waiting 21 years for a chance to party and realizing the hangover lasts for 30 years or more. Maybe you got laid once or twice and have nothing else to show for it. Real estate is an ACHIEVEMENT given the risks and costs over the life of a mortgage—and even better if you don’t need a mortgage! Education is not—at least not in tangible, objective terms.



Vasco
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01 Jul 2022, 5:49 am

I am currently going to community college, and I will be transferring to university.
Apply for FAFSA, scholarships.
Talk with people --- students, faculty, etc.
Usually in community colleges, everyone is so eager to help.

Also, for loans, choose subsidized loans over unsubsidized loans.
And try to choose a useful STEM major that has a higher than average earning potential.
Money matters. I'd say money is more important than passion because there has to be some baseline income to have some reasonable amount of safety, happiness, and freedom to progress in life.



shortfatbalduglyman
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01 Jul 2022, 8:48 am

SpaceMartian wrote:
Uni is a scam. You pay a fortune, get in debt for years in exchange for incompetent teachers, no real world experience, nothing guaranteed, and get treated like a trash bag. I left for that very same reason. Today you can learn anything on the internet.
But first things first, college or not, you need to know what you want to do or become. First figure that out, if you don't know, maybe exploring some stuff may help or ask here on WP about it. Once you sort of know what you want to do, explore what path you have and can realistically follow.
I'd run away from loans as if they were the devil himself, even tobacco seems like a good deal compared to a student load. UGH.


____________________________

"Scam" or *ripoff*

Bachelor degrees have a retail value, jus much lower than the price the universities charge the customer



AngelRho
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02 Jul 2022, 10:05 am

shortfatbalduglyman wrote:
SpaceMartian wrote:
Uni is a scam. You pay a fortune, get in debt for years in exchange for incompetent teachers, no real world experience, nothing guaranteed, and get treated like a trash bag. I left for that very same reason. Today you can learn anything on the internet.
But first things first, college or not, you need to know what you want to do or become. First figure that out, if you don't know, maybe exploring some stuff may help or ask here on WP about it. Once you sort of know what you want to do, explore what path you have and can realistically follow.
I'd run away from loans as if they were the devil himself, even tobacco seems like a good deal compared to a student load. UGH.


____________________________

"Scam" or *ripoff*

Bachelor degrees have a retail value, jus much lower than the price the universities charge the customer


Indeed.

I'll try not to write another novel about how I feel about it. My words of wisdom sharply summarized: Value and worth of something is tied directly to tangible, measurable effects of it. If it is not a physical good or service, it is nothing and therefore worthless. Unsecured loans like student loans are free money not backed by tangible goods/services. You sit, listen to professors run their mouths for an hour and a half a couple of times a week, take some exams, and hopefully receive a piece of paper that says you know enough to get a job.

However...suppose you spend a significant amount of time working at a job and volunteering. In that case, you trade tangible things--stocking shelves, bookkeeping, paralegal work, helping mentor high school kids, coaching little league, etc.--for head knowledge and experience leading to job-oriented skills and career advantage. Because you are working in a career field and making money, gaining training and experience ALREADY, the paper credentials you get at the end of 4-6 years of a bachelor's degree program alternating work and study will be worth much more in the long run.



Mountain Goat
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02 Jul 2022, 11:55 am

Best plan is to get a job and work your way up and while you work your way up you will have an income to spend on study in night classes or at home. (Open university). That way you will not only have developed a good work record (Far more important than qualifications to an employer) but also be able to back it up at a later date with qualifications, and all done without getting into debt.