All posts by Matt Orem

Navigating the Thickets of Student Loan Counseling

TG’s critique goes on: Each module “imagines borrowers are tireless text processors,” while delivering a “bulky and ultimately ineffective user experience” that was often “generic to the point of uselessness.”

In short, this may be the only dose of financial education that teenage borrowers get when making one of the most important financial decisions of their lives. But the counseling offers a dizzying amount of facts and not all that much advice about how much to borrow, in what way and when. “It’s a life-altering decision being made with minimal information at a time of maximum distraction,” said Jeff Webster, the TG executive who led its research.


College for the Masses

Yet the new research is a reminder that the country also underinvests in enrolling students in four-year colleges — and making sure they graduate. Millions of people with the ability to earn a bachelor’s degree are not doing so, and many would benefit greatly from it.

The unemployment rate among college graduates ages 25 to 34 is just 2 percent, even with the many stories you hear about out-of-work college graduates. They’re not generally working in menial jobs, either. The pay gap between college graduates and everyone else is near a record high. It’s large enough, over a lifetime, to cover many times over the almost $20,000 in student debt that an average graduate has, notes the education researcher Sandy Baum. College graduates are also healthier, happier, more likely to remain married, more likely to be engaged parents and more likely to vote, research has found.


Student Debt: A Calculator Focused on College Majors

Debt burdens vary a lot across majors, not surprisingly. In the sixth year of repayment, typical drama, music, religion and anthropology majors are still devoting more than 10 percent of their earnings to loan repayment. Other majors with fairly high early repayment burdens include philosophy, psychology and education. By contrast, engineering, computer science, economics and nursing majors are paying 6 percent or less of earnings in their sixth year.