Okay, first of all, my apologies to William Shakespeare. Second, my apologies to those who think that this is a terribly hokey way to start this blog (I’ll include myself in that group). And third, my apologies to us all, because there are more important questions than borrowing or not borrowing. It is not the question.
But I do want to address the issue of borrowing – specifically regarding student loans – because it has been a hot topic of discussion recently.
I have read a number of articles and heard people in various media advising families strongly against taking out loans for college.
I have a philosophy about loans. It’s not original with me, and you’re welcome to adopt it as your own, because I think it makes a lot of sense. Here it is: “Never pay interest on anything that depreciates in value.”
I work hard to abide by my own philosophy. So while I use my credit card to buy things, I make sure to pay off the balance each month. I’ll not buy a car until I have saved the money to pay for it (or if I can get a 0% loan).
I’ll confess that years ago I was not as financially responsible as I should have been. I did have credit card debt and a car loan, and I was living beyond my means. But I am pleased to say that I was able to dig out from under that burden, and I’ve adhered pretty closely to this philosophy – never pay interest on things that depreciate – ever since.
What things don’t depreciate in value? There are two that I can think of: a house, and a college education. I’ll grant that home prices took a hit in the past few years, but historically, buying a house has been a pretty good investment.
And a college education? Just look at the statistics. The median lifetime earnings for a college graduate will be about $1 million more than for someone with just a high school diploma. Even in our shaky economy, it’s still a good investment, and I don’t have to remind you that college is about more than getting a job. It’s an investment in your whole life experience – perhaps another 60 or 70 years’ worth!
Is a college experience at one school equal to that at another? I’ll strongly argue no!
Jesus told a parable about the man who found “a pearl of great price,” and went out and sold all he had to buy it. I think there is an analogy here for us as we think about choosing a college. You want a college that’s a great fit – and as a Christian, you want one where the values and the people (teachers and fellow students) are in sync with your desire to grow academically and spiritually.
Be wise in your college search. Don’t be extravagant, but it’s okay to borrow responsibly to be able to attend a college where you can thrive. That may be the best investment you’ll ever make.