How to finance higher education | Financing in minutes

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You’ve probably heard it said that “the most important investment you can make is in yourself and your education”. From almost every angle, this statement is solid advice. But, as with many truths, there is often a temptation to justify decisions and undertakings that cause long-term frustration and regret – getting into the current student debt crisis in the United States.

Is university a real investment worth taking on debt, often for years or even decades after graduation? In short, no; I do not believe. This is my personal opinion as a college graduate who has been in the workforce for almost nine years since graduating from college. I have witnessed the true burden of student debt on those who are already struggling to start their careers and build their adulthood after college.

You don’t have to go to college to be successful, even successful. While Chris Hogan’s unprecedented study of 10,000 millionaires in the United States found that 88% of millionaires have at least a bachelor’s degree, 60% of those surveyed have graduated from a public institution, and 8% are graduates of ‘a community college. Although statistics show that a degree can be helpful in the process of building wealth, there are many outliers. I personally know several millionaires without degrees. There are other popular icons who never attended or finished college, including Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson. University itself rarely influences your success directly, nor is it a reason to go into debt with debilitating debt.

I look at my college experience as I remember my first car, a 1995 Chevy S10 pickup truck that we finally sold several summers ago – necessary for my purposes, able to do the job and get to where I am. wanted to be, and a valuable tool for the time it was needed. But it certainly wasn’t worth taking on debt, especially debt that I might carry with me long after driving another vehicle. I once heard a radio listener call the Dave Ramsey Show for financial advice; she was a stay-at-home mom (to be clear: a job and a vocation, I believe, are the most important in the world), and she had tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt for a degree that she did had never planned to get use it again.

I have a bachelor’s degree in aviation science with a minor in economics, and if I had stayed in university for one more term, I could have gotten a double major in business administration. Instead, I took my last final exam a week earlier, skipped graduation, went straight to regional airline ground school, and graduated by the post office. The reason I even graduated is that at the time the big airline I hoped to work for one day required a four-year degree to be hired as a pilot; it was a long-standing requirement. Yet operating an aircraft at the highest level of safety does not require a college degree, and much of the industry, including my employer, has since abandoned this requirement.

I learned some fascinating things in college. But aside from the aviation part, a basic understanding of economics and supply and demand, and a semi-practical knowledge of accounting principles, I use virtually zero of my college education functionally in my life. daily.

The most important part of my entire education was the side effect it had on my life, much of which solidified even before college. I learned to manage time, the importance of structure in my life, how to plan and accomplish tasks and goals, and most importantly, how to continually learn and think critically. These lessons were worth infinitely more than any private lesson (sorry, Geography 101).

So yes, college is an “investment,” but maybe not as it’s traditionally defined, as a house that continually accumulates value over time and can be sold for a profit later. Rather, think of it as a building block or useful tool in your arsenal. A college education should be a blessing and an asset, not a curse and a handicap. There are several columns we discussed the important distinction between adopting an ‘asset’ mindset – investing heavily in things that increase in value over time (like real estate or retirement investments) and having an ‘asset’ mindset. of “responsibility” – that is, using your hard-earned money to buy things that are not necessarily harmful in themselves, but which lose value over time (finance a new car every 3-5 years, putting each year’s new iPhone on a payment plan, or taking a vacation by putting it on a credit card). Done correctly, college could help open the door to a life of asset building; not the college itself, but the opportunities it offers, the skills it teaches and the connections it helps to create.

Actions you can take today, right now: as a student, or as a parent of a student, get together as a family. Discuss and formulate a desire and a plan for how the college will be paid in cash. Yes it’s possible! Discover Anthony ONeal and his resources and books, including the bestselling “Debt-Free Degree”. Make it your business and part-time (or full-time!) Job to research and apply for scholarship opportunities. For me, my family used a combination of college fund savings, a number of scholarships (influenced by factors like high school / college grades, essays, and other things) and jobs. during college to avoid student debt. As a parent, start contributing regularly to investments in a tax-advantaged college fund, such as a 529 plan or an education savings account (ESA), but first make sure you’re not in debt and contact a finance professional who can guide you through the process. If the numbers still don’t add up, consider how you can reframe the education process to achieve your end goal. An in-state public school can be incredibly cheaper than an out-of-state school for little difference in the real world. There is also a constant demand and excellent salary for traditional professions and trades, and there are many training programs and academies available at very reasonable prices.

We are living in unprecedented times. Technology has made high-quality, low-cost (even free) learning easily accessible. Most of what I’ve learned about real life and personal finance comes from an organized collection of books, savvy mentors, and solid best practices. You don’t need a degree to understand how to budget, invest for retirement, buy real estate, get an interview and get the job you really want, renovate your home, or develop healthy boundaries and relationships. with your spouse, family and friends. The knowledge is out there, and most of it is free. College is a laudable goal, and whether you pursue it or not, if you seek wisdom and knowledge diligently enough, you will find what you are looking for, I guarantee it.

Luke Miller is passionate about helping others succeed in their finances, their careers and their lives. A fourth-generation aviator, he is a pilot for a major airline based in Seattle. Luke and his wife live locally in Enumclaw. This article is based solely on the opinions and recommendations of the author and is not intended to be a source of investment advice.

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