Debt: The Best Investment?

Let’s face it, a vast majority of you out there can’t afford college. A harsh reality, yes, yet college attendance numbers are climbing and climbing each year. The reason? Student loan debt. Both the government and essentially every bank has realized the prospective goldmine that is college students and are capitalizing on it via student loans. Many view this as a bad thing, saying this is taking advantage of younger, less educated people’s finances. I however, feel that student loan debt shouldn’t be frowned upon. Besides, over half of us will graduate with some.

I could sit here and tell of horror stories from student debt, or the bankruptcies of college-aged people. I could even go all Dave Ramsey and chastise you on being debt-free–but at the end of the day, student loans will still be taken out en masse. So instead I’d like to ask you to think of loans from another perspective. Say you take out $40,000 over the course of your degree. So now all you have to do is think: was my degree worth $40,000? That’s an easy answer and the math will make it clear as to why. Let’s do two scenarios. Say you don’t attend college and don’t get a degree. Hey, you’re already $40,000 richer and 4 years ahead of your college graduate self! And you just landed a full time job making $30,000 a year (the average salary of a high school graduate)! So you work from age 18-65 at $30,000 per year. That’s over $1.4 million you’ve made.

Now let’s take a look at your college graduate path. You land a job starting at $45,000 (average salary of college graduates) and by your 10th year working you’re making $55,000. This isn’t a rare thing to see for anyone with a college degree. So from the age of 22-65 you’ll earn roughly $2.26 million. Subtract about $50,000 for the student debt with interest that you paid off and the difference comes out to about $800,000. Now you can ask yourself again like this:  is going $40,000 into debt worth gaining $800,000 later? At a 2,000% return on your money, I think college is one of the best investments there is.

So all I ask is that for a moment we all stop placing the blame on student loan programs. Besides, were it not for student loans, millions of students, myself included, would not be given the opportunity to attend college and possibly better ourselves. Student loans give the average person a chance they might not otherwise ever get again, and for that I say thank you. I feel the hate and anger towards student loans is misguided. If people are smart and responsible about them, student loans can really make a difference.