How Do You Know if You Can Afford Your College Degree?

Beth Dumbauld

How Do You Know if You Can Afford Your College Degree?It can be a challenge to know if the college where you plan on earning your degree is truly affordable. Let's face it, we are all persuadable. We don't always make decisions that are in our best interest. And when it comes time to go back to college and earn a degree, we can be overly influenced by the slick images of students happily holding their diplomas. We'd be far better served if those images came with disclaimers, such as "I took out $26,000 in student loans to earn this college degree," or "I took out $50,000 in loans," or in the case of a financially-savvy student "I didn't take out student; I took StraighterLine online courses."

Yes, there is a posted sticker price to attend college, but what you actually pay for college, and the path you take to earn a college degree, remains uniquely individual.

How much student loan debt is too much? How do you know you can afford a college degree?

Looming over the head of too many students during college graduation is the cloud of student loan debt. But how much student loan debt is too much? Currently 60% of students take out student loans, according to The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), and graduate with an average of $26,600 in student loan debt. Assuming you get a job after graduation, affordability depends on how you answer this question: is your degree working for you (money in your bank account) or are you working for your degree (money paying off student loans)?

You know your college degree will be affordable if…

  1. You can reliably make a financial plan – including required student loan payments upon graduation. This means you need to be able to calculate how much you will pay for each year of college in order to earn your degree, not just first year costs.
  2. Your college seamlessly accepts transfer credits earned elsewhere, such as those earned through AP, CBE (Credit by Exam), or online college courses.
  3. You save $15,000 by taking your first year of college courses through StraighterLine’s Freshman Year program.
  4. You focus on degree completion, and do what it takes to graduate at an accelerated rate. Every semester of college bypassed is thousands of dollars you won’t have to borrow for tuition and fees.

Who says you have to be overwhelmed by student loan debt when you graduate from college? With StraighterLine, you can afford your college degree.

How Do You Know if You Can Afford Your College Degree?

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