a new way to determine if you’re smart enough for college

In yesterday’s New York Times, Kelsey Griffith, a recent graduate from Ohio Northern University, is one of those featured regarding the cost of a college education and the lasting effects of student loans.

Ms. Griffith, 23, wouldn’t seem a perfect financial fit for a college that costs nearly $50,000 a year. . .But when she visited Ohio Northern, she was won over by faculty and admissions staff members who urge students to pursue their dreams rather than obsess on the sticker price.

Yeah, I bet they do.

“As an 18-year old, it sounded like a good fit to me, and the school really sold it. . .I knew a private school would cost a lot of money. But when I graduate, I’m going to owe like $900 a month. No one told me that.”

Yes, college is too expensive. Yes, some financial aid statements paint a rosy picture on the bottom line, but it doesn’t take a genius to notice that they’re doing so by requiring parents to take out loans, nor to recognize the difference between “grant” and “loan.”  And ultimately, it comes down to this: If you’re not smart enough to be able to figure out that borrowing $120,000 for college is going to result in a high student loan payment, maybe you shouldn’t be going to college in the first place.

Maybe, instead of having high school juniors taking ACTs and SATs we should just ask this question: You’re going to borrow $100,000 for your college education. The terms of the loan require that the balance is paid off in 10 years. Your monthly payments will most closely equal:

a) the price of a Happy Meal

b) the price of a new pair of jeans at Target

c) your parent’s mortgage payment

1 Response to “a new way to determine if you’re smart enough for college”

  1. May 16, 2012 at 12:23 am

    OK, point taken. However, I reckon there are plenty of young people out there who have no idea whether option (c) is very different from option (b), because they’re not told anything about their parents’ financial situation and for whom 10 years is almost an infinite amount of time compared with how far ahead they normally think. Even though I’m not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer now, I look back on my own youth and wonder how I could have been so dumb!

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