Friday, December 25, 2015

Beating the College Debt Trap, by Alex Chediak

Merry Christmas!  The cover of Beating the College Debt Trap looks like a Christmas ornament. . . sort of.  It's not full of much Christmas cheer, though.  My oldest child is a high school junior, who has high hopes for college.  Elite colleges are at the top of his wish list, but he would settle for an expensive regional private university.  He says he's doesn't want to get "stuck" going to a regional public college.  He's my kid, so of course I believe he's in the top .0001% and will be desired by every college to which he applies.  In the best of all possible worlds, he'll be a National Merit scholar with several choices of top schools offering him full ride scholarships.

In the meantime, our family will have to plan and prepare for a lesser of all possible worlds: paying for college.  Alex Chediak provides clear, realistic guidance for students who don't want to graduate from college with a huge ball and chain of college debt following them.  The facts and figures he provides are sobering yet oh so helpful.  His main point: count the cost of taking that loan.  It's so easy to spend student loan money, both because of the nature of spending money that's not yours, and because of the enormous cost of higher education these days.  Students have to face reality.  Maybe that very expensive college that will leave you with huge debt isn't really worth it, after all.  Maybe that expensive apartment, the poor spending habits, the costly meal plan should be cut back so you're not paying for it for decades after graduation.

For a parent or student getting ready for college, these realities may be rather depressing.  College has become tremendously, unnecessarily expensive.  The unsustainable rising cost of college is an issue for another day, one that must be addressed.  But once you face the facts of the costs of getting a degree, Chediak's book is a helpful guide.  I received this as a free e-book, but I'll be buying a copy for my high school junior so we can start developing a plan, just in case that National Merit scholarship doesn't work out.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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