Managing Student Loan Debt: How to Budget for Affordability

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Managing Student Loan Debt: How to Budget for Affordability
Student loan debt statistics continue to shock. Just two years ago, the average student loan debt in America was estimated at about $27,000. Now, a recent study from Fidelity Investments reveals that 70 percent of students who graduated college in 2013 borrowed money from various federal, state, and private sources to help pay for their education. And they left school with an average debt of $35,200. That's a 35 percent increase.

The Fidelity study also found that 50 percent of those 2013 graduates who had taken out student loans expressed surprise by just how much debt they had accumulated. That's another shocking statistic that clearly demonstrates just how difficult it is for many college-age students to visualize what their lives will be like when the borrowing phase of their student loans is over and the dreaded repayment phase begins. And that's not a good place to be.

The bottom line is that student loans are not optional arrangements between you and your lenders. They have to be repaid. They cannot be ignored or put off and federal law stipulates that they cannot even be discharged via bankruptcy. If you default on your student loans you can have your tax refunds intercepted, a portion of your wages garnished, judgments or lawsuits issued against you or collection fees added to your loan balances – not to mention harassing calls and tactics from aggressive creditors.

That's why it's absolutely critical that if you are a student loan borrower, you learn how to manage...
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Learn Wine Making, Beer Crafting at Your Local Community College
In addition to the new beer crafting program at a North Carolina Community College, we take a look at other schools around the country that teach the fine arts of beer and wine making.
One of the more popular and less conventional fields of study at community colleges today is a degree in beer crafting or wine making. While these programs may not seem like paths to lucrative professions on the surface, the truth is that the wine and beer industry is a booming one in the U.S. and beyond. Check out these community colleges that offer training in a long-standing craft that continues to be highly sought today.
 
The Booming Business of Beer Crafting
 
According to a report at Blue Ridge Now, craft beer is a U.S. industry that is growing by leaps and bounds. The article cites numbers from the Brewers Association that shows the $10 billion industry grew to 10 percent of the entire beer market in 2012. During that same year, more than 400 new breweries opened across the country, which brings the total number of breweries in the United States to more than 2,400.
 
“I think it’s a great idea for a school to start this kind of program,” Andy Cubbin, co-owner and head brewer at Southern Appalachian Brewery, told Blue Ridge Now. “I think [the craft beer industry] is growing about 15 or 16 percent a year.”
 
The Community College Times reported earlier this year that providing a degree program in beer crafting gives community colleges another avenue to do what they do best – offer training for employment opportunities right in their own neighborhoods. The article uses Rockingham Community College in North Carolina as an...
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Hikes in Stafford Loan Rates Could Spell Trouble for Some Community College Students
We report on the recent increases in Stafford Loan Rates, which have led to some community colleges across the country discontinuing this option for financial aid.
The announcement of a significant increase in Stafford loan rates could pose a problem for some community college students. Despite reassurances from Congress that a deal is coming, those looking for ways to pay for their postsecondary education continue to be left in a bind at this point. On the other hand, many community colleges have done away with the Safford loan option for other reasons, and students are finding alternative methods for footing their tuition bills. Check out how community colleges are dealing with the issues involving Stafford loans and finding other ways to help their students financially.
 
Stafford Loan Rates Doubling?
 
MPN Now reports that the failure by Congress to address student loan rates has resulted in a doubling of the rates for Stafford loans. Without intercession by lawmakers, students could see rates of 6.8% on loans taken out for the upcoming school year. Last year, those rates were just 3.4%.
 
The rate hike applies to subsidized Stafford loans, which are those in which the government pays the interest while the student is still attending college. Subsidized Stafford loans make up about one-quarter of all Stafford loans issued. Unfortunately, they are also the loans that typically go to the neediest students.
 
Susan Romano, director of financial aid at Finger Lakes Community College in New York, told MPN Now that the changes may prompt students to look for other ways to pay for their college education.
 
“I think it’s going to make families think twice about loans, especially here at...
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New “Pay it Forward” Plan will Allow Students to Attend Community College Tuition-Free
We explore an innovative idea coming to Oregon community colleges that will allow students to attend school tuition-free, with an agreement to pay back the state with a portion of their income after graduation.
As federal lawmakers appear unable to make progress in the student debt crisis, state lawmakers in Oregon are moving ahead with a plan to make higher education more affordable and debt-free. The proposal, known as “Pay it Forward, Pay it Back,” is a unique approach to footing the climbing bill of postsecondary education today. The bill has been approved by the state legislature and is expected to be signed into law by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber later this month.
 
What is Pay it Forward, Pay it Back?
 
According to the website for the Oregon Working Families Party, this new piece of legislation, officially dubbed House Bill 3472, offers access to a higher education without the accumulation of large amounts of debt. Students attending public universities and community colleges would be able to do so without paying any tuition up front. After the student leaves the college or university and enters the workforce, these students would pay a percentage of their income directly to the state’s higher education funding.
 
Under the current proposal, students graduating from a four-year public school would pay 3 percent of their income. Those graduating from a community college would pay 1.5 percent of their income. Payments would be deducted directly from the individual’s payroll, much like social security taxes. The payments would increase or decrease according to the individual’s income amount, and would continue for a full 24 years.
 
Pay it Forward, Pay it Back was the brainchild of a group of students at Portland State University,...
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Large California Community College Faces Accreditation Loss, Shut-Down
We report on the latest developments at City College of San Francisco that have resulted in the school’s loss of accreditation and impending shut-down.
Photo Credit: Qrc2006 via Wikipedia Commons
The largest community college in California is destined to meet a dire fate one year from now, if heroic efforts to save the school are not successful. City College of San Francisco was recently notified by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges that it will lose accreditation by July 31, 2014. Although the school has few options left, extreme moves are in the works that could be the last hope for saving the failing school.
 
11 of 14 Changes Go Unaddressed
 
Problems for City College date far beyond the recent announcement of accreditation loss. San Francisco Gate reported that the commission evaluated the school in 2012, and made 14 recommendations for improvements that would save the schools accreditation status. Those 14 recommendations included:
  • A revised mission statement for the school
  • Use of the mission statement to allocate resources, with an increase of reserves
  • An assessment of the college’s effectiveness
  • Evaluations of all staff members responsible for student success
  • Determination of whether there is sufficient staff to ensure student success
  • Identification of priorities in class curriculum and effectiveness of current courses and programs
  • Assessment of whether student support services are hitting the mark
  • Development of an effective planning process
  • Leadership training for all staff and faculty members
  • Reporting of financial information through timely, accurate process
  • Inclusion of building operating costs in long-term financial planning
  • Development of plan for maintaining and updating information systems
  • Improvement of governance structure for more efficient decision-making
  • Adherence to bylaws and policies by college trustees
The college was placed on severe sanctions and given eight months to...
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