I love Dave Ramsey’s video rant about student loan debt, which you can watch at the link I’ve provided below.
(Listen for my favorite Dave line in this rant: “I missed where the lady got helped.”)
If you’ve got 9 minutes to listen to this while getting ready for work in the morning or while cooking dinner, please do!
As you listen, though, be aware that Dave Ramsey is wrong about two things:
1. Dave Ramsey’s wrong when he says that your in-state college or university is automatically your bargain choice.
Sure, the sticker price looks good.
The problem is that at many state colleges and universities, earning a four-year degree can take six years or more. Why? Because required classes fill so quickly that students simply can’t get into them, regardless of how diligent and hardworking they are.
The worst thing about this? A student’s financial aid is set up to cover only four years of college, remember. So what happens when the financial aid runs dry after year four? Too often, years five and six get paid for by high interest credit card debt. A bargain? No way. Especially when you consider that a student may suffer two extra years of lost income during years five and six. Not yet convinced? Read this article by NerdWallet, which argues that two extra years of college can cost your kid $300,000 or more by the time you add up all the associated costs.
Chapter 14 of my book provides thoughtful, in-depth direction on how to pick colleges that will end up being genuine bargains for your child.
(One strategy is to check each college’s four-year graduation rate by entering the college’s name at collegedata.com. Low four-year graduation rate? Pick a different school.)
2. Dave Ramsey’s wrong when he says parents should help kids figure out career goals when those kids are 17 or 18. (Career clarification should actually be done long before that.)
Preferably in January of 10th grade.
(I provide extensive low-cost help with this here.)
Students who use assessments to figure out career goal very early on give themselves 6 distinct advantages:
1. They go through the rest of high school excited about a bright future ahead.
2. They choose colleges, academic programs, and college majors with a strategic eye toward what they plan to do after college.
3. They’re able to begin volunteering and job shadowing in their eventual career fields far earlier than other students, getting a jump-start on building not just a solid and focused resume, but skills and abilities they’ll be using for years to come as well.
4. They transfer schools less. They finish college faster.
5. They are at far lower risk for depression and risky behavioral choices while they’re in college, because they go through college with purpose and hope.
6. They pay far less for college than do students who wander aimlessly through college and grad school without focus or career direction.
If you wait until your son is age 17 or 18 to help him get career clarification, though—yikes. By that time he may have already signed up to attend a college that’s a poor fit for the career he’s going to have some day. You don’t want him to end up wasting thousands of dollars languishing in an unproductive, ill-fitting four-year degree program when he’s actually cut out to be an air traffic controller, police detective, respiratory therapist, or building construction manager. (Students attend certain special schools in order to be qualified to do those jobs.)
You can listen to Dave Ramsey’s wonderful rant against student loan debt here.
(Dave Ramsey, you know I love you. Almost every parent who reads my book buys at least one Dave Ramsey product and starts the journey toward becoming debt-free with your help. Thank you.)
For clear, step-by-step help getting your kids through college debt-free, get your copy of my book:
It’s a reference book, so nobody reads the whole thing cover to cover. Pick out what you need to read in it using the fast-paced, 10-minute video instructions here.
You can see more than 100 reviews of it on Amazon at:
(Tell your friends.)
Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1–3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.
And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.
Take a step on this right now. Get regular, inspiring help from me—every Monday morning.
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What about you? What are your thoughts about state universities, and about kids figuring out career goal early on?
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Who is Jeannie Burlowski?
Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, podcast host, and sought-after speaker for students ages 12–26, their parents, and the professionals who serve them. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, Parents Magazine, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.