In a post over at OTB noting the surprising finding that most college students don’t borrow to finance their education, Doug Mataconis links to this study. Check Figures 5 through 7. Somewhat belying Doug’s post but also unsurpringly they illustrate that the lower the student’s family income the more likely he or she is to borrow and that students from lower income families may borrow as much as 40% of the cost of their educations.
As I’ve said before I find it unconscionable that public higher education isn’t dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, costs cut substantially, and offered at low or no cost just as primary education is.
A diploma isn’t the only factor in securing your first job. For many there’s such a thing as contacts or pull including the influence of that diploma being from an elite school. I think it would be interesting to see a chart that illustrated the pay rate of the graduate’s first jobs by family income level. My guess is that the rule of thumb probably is something like the more you owe, the less likely you are to be able to pay it off.
In my own case I paid for college by having a scholarship, working, and borrowing in about equal amounts. My scholarship paid for my tuition. I covered my room, board, books, and other expenses by a combination of work and borrowing. I worked between 35 and 50 hours a week as an undergraduate and graduate student. Once I left school and started working a full-time job I repaid my college loans on an accelerated basis in three or four years. I hate debt.