Student Loans: Are They Help, or Hell?

elephant skeleton

Are you SURE you want to borrow money for art school? $10,000 is a lot of money. Some students borrow over $50,000. That’s a lot of money.

When you go to college on a student loan, they get you to sign some papers so that each semester they can give you a bunch of money and you don’t have to do anything to get it. Suddenly you’re enrolled. It’s easy, and they make it that way on purpose. People praise you for getting your education, so you keep learning, and borrowing.

Say your tuition is $7,000 per semester. The financial aid department will get you $10,000 in loans. They take their $7,000 and send you a refund check for $3,000. You can choose to live off it that semester or send it right back to the loan granting institution. Chances are, you live off it. If you do that four semesters in a row then you’ve borrowed $40,000 in total by the time you graduate. That’s $12,000 more than expected.

From graduation you have a six month grace period before you have to start making loan payments. That is, you have six months to find a job or some form of income. After six months you’re expected to start making payments of approximately $305 per month. If you keep at that minimum payment, you’ll be paying off your student loan for the next twenty years (240 payments). That makes your total cumulative cost for college tuition $73,200, because your degree cost you $33,200 dollars in interest alone. All the while you’ll be paying car payments, rent or mortgage, living expenses, electricity, health insurance, and food.

If after reading this you’re still set on getting your art education, go for it! But consider going to a state school over a private school, because tuition is often less expensive. Nothing stifles your art more than mountains of financial debt.

Paying off a huge student loan is like eating an elephant: it’s going to take a long time, and after a while you’re going to get sick of it.