Before Ramsey launched into his on-air rant, a young woman from Texas named Sarah had called in to his show to ask him a question about her family's finances. Sarah had taken out $130,000 in student loan debt in order to earn her Bachelor's degree in Psychology. After earning her degree, she was unable to find work and is now a stay-at-home mom. After answering her financial question, Ramsey launches into a rant about student loan debt. It was as if he were speaking directly to me. Ramsey made it clear that he loves stay-at-home moms - which is good, because I plan to be one some day! However, if my husband and I don't pay off our student loans, we will be unable to live on one income, and I will be forced to work instead of being at home with our kids. In his rant, Ramsey says, "You know what a psychology degree without a Master's degree is worth? NOTHING! Nothing! Absolutely nothing! You can't get a [job] in a factory with that degree! You know what a theology degree from Columbia is worth? NOTHING! It had no marketplace value! Think, people." I have a Bachelor's degree in Psychology... I once heard someone say that with only a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, you might as well learn to say, "Would you like fries with that?" Luckily, I have a lot of administrative / accounts receivable experience, and have been able to find good jobs in Canada. For many American young adults with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, life has been a different story - with rising unemployment rates, their job future can look pretty bleak. I also chose to go to a state school, and had an academic scholarship, so my total student loan amount owing is just over $20,000, which is much less than the over $100,000 some owe for Bachelor's degrees from ivy league schools or other private institutions. However, we still struggle to pay my loans, and I no longer believe that any amount of student loan debt is beneficial for any young adult.
Ramsey later gives a warning to parents of young adults in his rant when he says, "If you have a 20-year-old or an 18-year-old walking around, grab them by the ear and tell them they should not get a useless degree from a private university that you cannot make a living with and then choose to go home and be a stay-at-home mom with $100,000 in student loan debt." Ramsey goes on to warn young adults themselves when he says, "This is how life happens. You say you're going to be a professional at something and then you change your mind--YOU LOST THAT OPTION! You lose these options when you go this far in debt. You are forced into a situation where you are choosing between your children and student loan debt to get a useless degree!" It fires me up as well when I think about all of the women who feel called to be stay-at-home moms, but who are forced to work full-time instead of staying at home with their children because of student loan debt. This is not right, and most of us don't think about the consequences of student loan debt until it is too late. Over the past few years, my husband and I have had to say no to countless opportunities to hang out with friends, family gatherings, ministry opportunities, buying a house, and having children because our student loan payments are so high. I am not writing this to complain - we got ourselves into this situation. I am writing this as a warning to other young people who are considering taking out student loans. Think about what you can realistically make per month with your degree of choice. Then think about all of your future bills, and factor in how much student loan debt you can realistically afford to pay every month. Also realize that if you are married someday, you have no control over the amount of debt your spouse will bring into your relationship. Whatever debt you have combines with whatever debt they have when you get married. My favorite line in Ramsey's rant is, "There is no student loan tooth fairy!" You will not magically wake up one morning after graduating from University with a large lump sum of money under your pillow to pay off your student loans with. Proceed with caution financially before you find yourself swimming in debt.
Are you a young adult who wants to pursue higher education? What are some creative ways you can think of to pay for your education without taking out student loan debt? (If you need help thinking of some, I listed several in the blog post directly below this one).