How Does the Student Loan Landscape Look?

BY busadmin  April 2, 2009 at 12:27 PM EST

Boston University library roncaglia via Flickr

Question: With the way things are right now, how does it look in the future for taking out student loans? For instance, if I take out a student loan in the next two years, how much is that going to hurt me when I graduate with a bachelor’s degree? Will there be jobs for a fresh-out-of-school guy like me?

Paul Solman: Whoa. You’re asking about the advisability of taking out a student loan? Or about the advisability of getting a bachelor’s at all?

The latest data I’ve seen is that folks who don’t have a 4-year degree make a lot less money, over the course of their careers, than folks who do. The amounts seem to dwarf the interest on student loans.

Therefore I’d turn your question around: How much is it going to hurt you NOT to graduate with a bachelor’s degree? Machines are replacing the unskilled. Workers abroad are competing with the unskilled. Have you got the energy, the connections, the discipline to match the benefits of going to college without actually going? If so, please proceed. If not, I’d think seriously about taking out that loan.