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Debt-Free Degree

It’s been said student debt is a product that has been sold to us with such repetition and intensity that most people believe they can’t live without.

My 19 year-old son attends community college, drives a 15 year old car, and lives at home. He could have attended a number of universities. But as, Andrew Josuweit, at Forbes.com, says “skipping community college can be a $20,000 mistake.”

According to the College Board, "of all students who completed a degree at a four-year institution in 2013-14 had enrolled at a two-year institution at some point in the previous 10 years." The variety of tracks are appealing.

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We are two weeks into a new year. Are you discouraged by the state of your financial affairs?

ZeroHedge.com recently revealed the states where consumers accumulated the greatest revolving debt. Hopefully, you were not among those who woke up regretting the addition of thousands of dollars to your credit cards over the holidays (at a 30% interest rate nonetheless).

Minnesota and Wisconsin dominate the list of cities with the top 10 best credit scores, while cities in California, Texas, and Louisiana account for 8 out of 10 of the worst scores.

According to MarketWatch, the average family in the worst states would be required to apply 15% of their median income toward debt repayment and it will take them over a year and a half to pay off their credit card debt.

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Not only do you and I have to live within a budget, but so do institutions of higher education. So, what do they do when things get tight?

According to a recent article at MarketWatch, when public colleges are strapped for cash, they go international.

The article reported that for every 10% drop in state funding provided to public universities between 1996 and 2012, public research campuses increased enrollment of foreign students by 12%, and those colleges that spend the most on their students raised international enrollment by 17%. 

ALL colleges do not resort to this approach, but it is a true reflection of those institutions with an international reputation and those hardest hit by state cuts.

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Going Down: Tips for Dealing with College Debt

Originally posted at Christian Post September 2, 2016.

To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.

Dear Chuck,

It’s back to school time for many families, but my children are finishing college and newly graduated, so I’m less concerned now that they have a diploma– and more worried about the debt they accumulated – the nasty student loan kind of debt.. Do you have any advice for my family and me?

Parents of Indebted Graduate

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Here’s an out of the box idea: Start a business while in college!

Think you could juggle a full course load and start a successful business?

An article at Time.com reports that starting a business in college has many advantages because young entrepreneurs are exposed to networking opportunities with alumni, have excellent exposure to professors’ expertise, and essential classes in technology or finance. The Kauffman Foundation states that 1/3 of business incubators are now based at universities.

Interested? Scott Gerber, co-founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council offers these tips:

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Are you worried about your student getting a college education that never leads to a job?

Chuck Bentley on 6/20/16 8:00 AM

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I believe today’s graduates are on the verge of suffering through another economic bubble poised to burst – a college debt bubble. Too many graduates will owe more for their education than they can afford to pay back. According to the Wall Street Journal, 2016 college graduates broke the debt record, leaving college today with an average debt of $37,172.  With so many graduates burdened by debt, it’s important to make a plan ensuring their investment pays off.

I believe parents and students need to seek experienced counsel before going into debt. Proverbs 15:22 notes, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Get Counsel on Your Best Skills. We are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” by a loving God who intended us to accomplish His purposes on this earth. Crown has developed Career Direct as an assessment tool to understand a person’s unique gifts and talents, the true foundation of a career. Getting wise career counseling before and during college will make a significant difference in costs and the long-term return on your investment.

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Is Graduating Debt-free from College Even Possible?

Chuck Bentley on 6/3/16 9:00 AM

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Originally posted at Christian Post June 3, 2016.

To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.

Dear Chuck,

My husband and I are more concerned everyday about how we are going to help our children get through college without burying themselves in debt. It’s starting to be similar to the costs of buying a house! What can we do to help our kids graduate with as little debt as possible?

Frugal Folks

Dear Frugal,

I share your concern! Forbes reports that the projected costs of a 4-year degree from an elite college can run as high as $334,000 … and that’s assuming the kids make it out in 4 years! Strategies exist for cutting those costs if you really work at it. Not long ago, my wife and I proudly watched one of our sons graduate from the University of Georgia – debt free. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is possible.

As I wrote in this column last week, before you make an investment in a college education, take some steps to be sure that you are in a field of study that is suited to your unique and God-given design. Too many students increase the costs of their educations by switching their majors and adding years to their schooling. Borderzine.com reports, "About 80 percent of students in the United States end up changing their major at least once, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. On average, college students change their major at least three times over the course of their college career."

Time is money, when it comes to a degree. And time spent effectively in the high school years, can save thousands of dollars in college tuition fees.

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Make Your Expensive College Education Count!

Chuck Bentley on 5/27/16 9:00 AM

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Originally posted at Christian Post May 27, 2016.

To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.

 

Dear Chuck,

With kids in college, I’m very worried about whether they can get a job after graduation and about the debt they’re going to need to manage because my wife and I can’t afford to pay for their educations free and clear. But it’s hard to get a good job without a college education. Do you have advice for us on making the most of a college degree?

Worried Parents

 

Dear Parents,

With four sons, my wife and I can relate to your concerns as we have worked with our boys to get a college education without debt.  I’m especially concerned for today’s graduates because I believe that they are on the verge of suffering through another economic bubble poised to burst – a college debt bubble - just like the housing bubble that burst, leaving people stuck with homes worth less than the mortgage debt. Similarly, many graduates will owe more than they can afford to pay back because of low-paying or unavailable jobs. According to the Wall Street Journal, 2016 college graduates broke the debt record set in 2015, leaving college today with an average debt of $37,172.  With so many young people burdened as they start their adult lives, it’s important to make a plan that ensures their investment pays off.

Because the costs are so high, I believe parents and students need to seek lots of counsel before going into debt for a college education. Proverbs 15:22 notes, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Know Yourself. We are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” by a loving God who intended us to accomplish His purposes on this earth. The question is, what is God’s purpose for our lives? Crown has developed Career Direct as an assessment tool to understand a person’s unique gifts and talents, because those are the skills best developed into a career. It’s important information to have as so many young adults get into additional debt because they’ve chosen the wrong majors for themselves, leading to higher costs and delays to discovering the right path.

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Can you get a College Degree Debt Free?

Chuck Bentley on 3/18/16 9:00 AM

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Friday's Handwriting on the Wall posts will feature Chuck's new ChristianPost.com column, Ask Chuck. Chuck will be answering questions about what the the Bible has to say about money. Please share on #financialfridays and submit your own questions here. @AskCrown

Originally posted at Christian Post March 18, 2016.

To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.

 

Dear Chuck,

My younger sister is in a mess with her student loans.  I am trying to help her figure it out. Does Crown have any materials, resources, third party consultants, or any ideas that you can recommend?

A Worried Brother

 

Dear Worried Brother,  

You’re right to be worried. Student debt is a growing crisis in America. In fact, I believe that overpriced educations that don’t result in jobs are a new bubble ready to burst. Today, 7 in 10 bachelor’s degree recipients graduate with some debt, and student debt -- surpassing $1.2 TRILLION – is second only to mortgages. But just like the housing bubble, where people owed more on their houses than the houses were worth, too many young people owe for an education that does not turn into the job imagined.

Here’s what I recommend for your sister:

First: Get a handle on how much she owes on all debt and to whom. Crown has free resources such as the “Debt Snowball Calculator” where she can list all her creditors and the details of those debts to get a clear picture of the problem and a plan to attack it. You may be interested to know that the Class of 2015 graduated with the highest debt level in history – an average of $35,051 – so I hope you’ll find comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. At Crown we advise, “Run toward your creditors, not from them, It’s difficult to negotiate with a creditor who has been ignored. Most creditors respond to a specific request that is backed by a detailed written plan. The plan should include what you owe, a copy of your budget, and a detailed plan showing exactly how much you can repay each month.”

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As Culture Shifts on College Campuses, Be the Salt and Light

“In case you had any doubts that America’s college campuses are dominated by Godless communists, fresh statistical evidence is at hand.”

That quote is not mine. It is taken word for word from a recent article on a leading financial website, MarketWatch.com.   The author Tom Bemis goes on to say

“The Communist Manifesto” still ranks among the top three most frequently assigned texts at American universities.

By contrast, the Bible doesn’t show up at all. That’s according to data from Open Syllabus project, which tracks books and other works assigned to students in more than 1 million syllabi. 

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