I think every parent wants their child to have better opportunities than they were able to have, or afford. Just about anyone with a child wants their child to be able to have a better life than their own (and if they don’t, then maybe they should re-think this whole parent thing).
With that in mind, I’ve started the process of setting up a 529 account for our son so that when he becomes of age, there is money that has been invested and put aside to help him further his education. Of course, we’ll also be hoping and encouraging him to apply for scholarships and grants wherever they’re available.
Whoa whoa whoa. Slow down there, dorky daddy. Talking about college already when your son is only nine weeks old? What gives?
Here’s where it comes from. You see, while I went to college and received a degree, it was not a road easily traveled for me financially. Sure, I’m confident there are many who had things far, far worse when it came to affording higher education, don’t get me wrong.
However, financial aid and a grant only covered so much, and the rest (and there was a lot of ‘the rest’) was covered by student loans. What’s worse, the majority of them were private student loans, as public student loans only cover so much.
I would never want to give up the experiences and lifelong friendships that I made in my time away at college, but the costs that came along with it have become the gift that keeps on giving…to the banks.
At the young age of 17, 18, 19, I wasn’t thinking about what my life would be like 10-15 years down the road. It was all so ‘far away’ that I just naturally assumed and had confidence in the fact that I’d very easily get a job and pay off any loans that I took out to pay for college.
Even in the current journalism job that I’ve had for more than five years, I’m still paying out half of my paycheck each pay period to student loan lenders and will be for years to come.
So is it worth it anymore?
It used to be that people attended a college to learn more about a specialized field. Today it seems like it’s become nothing more than a “credential” that one needs in order to get a job.
So, we take out massive debt to get a piece of paper that may or may not help us get a job in order to pay for the massive debt we took out in the first place.
We’ve become indentured servants to our schooling and the banks, forcing us to stay in jobs that we might otherwise take the leap of faith out of to bigger things, but stay where we are for the security of knowing we can pay off that education debt that has outgrown so many other bills.
I don’t want that for my son.
Hopefully, by teaching him not only the importance of learning and how to learn, but investing in the 529, should he choose to go on to college, he will not become the Jacob Marley of education, wearing the shackles of student loan debt that so many of us on the college degree chain gang must wear.