Student debt was one of the topics that my ex and I completely disagreed about. Specifically, we argued about my student debt. He didn’t have any, didn’t want any, and didn’t understand why people acquire student debt. I, on the other hand, have a whole lot of student debt. While it’s not always easy to deal with that debt, I don’t regret it for a minute.
My Student Debt History
I didn’t go to college immediately after high school. When I did decide to go, I was all in. I completed my four year degree in two-and-a-half years. Of course, in order to do that, I wasn’t able to work much during that time. I relied on student debt not only to pay for tuition and books but also to cover my living expenses.
After getting my BAS, I thought that I wanted to go to law school. I moved to San Francisco. I took out the maximum allowed school loans. I realized in the middle of the first semester that law school wasn’t right for me. Nevertheless, those loans afforded me a start in the city where I thrive today.
I got my Masters degree from a pricey private institution. I did work while getting that degree. However, I still maxed out my student loans. I used those loans to repay other debt in order to put myself on a firmer financial footing while attending school.
Did I “Need” Those Degrees?
The debate about student debt ultimately tends to come down to the question, “is it worth it?”
When you look only at my career path from the outside, it’s hard to argue that it is. My BAS is in Public Agency Service with Community Service Emphasis. My MA is in Psychological Studies. In other words, I trained to work in the areas of social work and then counseling therapy. I don’t work in those fields.
Obviously, I never finished law school and also don’t work in law. I borrowed six figures in student debt in order to not work in the jobs for which I’d trained.
However, I didn’t know at the time that I wouldn’t formally use those degrees. Moreover, as a writer, my work is largely informed by my life experience. My education was the foundation for so much of that experience. If I didn’t attend those programs, I’d be neither the person nor the writer that I am today.
Would More Student Debt Be Worth It?
I love school. I get a lot out of it. Not only do I truly believe that my career benefits, but I also gain immeasurable personal growth from education. My Masters may have been pricey. However, it gave me an in-depth level of access to valuable personal therapy insights that would have cost me even more had I gone a private therapy route to attain them.
My past student debt is definitely worth it. But should I acquire more? I would love to get a PhD. I would love to attend an MFA program. Arguably, the student debt would far outweigh any extra amount I might earn in my career as a result. Nevertheless, at some point in my life, those might be the right paths for me anyway.
Differing Viewpoints on the Value of Student Debt
My approach is neither comfortable nor right for everyone. Business Insider recently reported that more than one fifth of millennials say college wasn’t worth the cost. Nearly another quarter say it probably wasn’t worth it. Those people of any age who were still paying off their debt were less likely to believe it was worth it than those who have finished their debt repayment.
Student loan debt is a particularly hot topic right now. Weigh in by sharing in the comments whether your own debt has been worth it.
I had something like 40,000 in student loan debt from my masters program, as well as a good 20,000 in credit card debt. I knew that I had a problem when I was sitting at home, eating ramen and looking in the phone book for jobs.