College graduates are often finding that they are unable to pursue ministry or the perfect job. Furthermore, more and more graduates are returning home to live with parents or delaying marriage.
UNDERSTANDING THE “BUSINESS OF COLLEGE”
Danielle was a top student at Hofstra University pursuing a career in advanced geographical mapping. She graduated with honors and was offered a fantastic, but relatively low paying, internship with the United Nations in Washington D.C. Her plan was to work there for two years, then begin her dream career at the FBI.
Danielle started working and quickly found that D.C. apartments were much more expensive than she thought. After a few months, she received her first student loan bill of over $1,100 per month!
Sadly, because of her loan repayments, Danielle was forced to resign at the U.N., move back home, and work as a bank teller in addition to a number of other jobs to make ends meet. Looking back, she says she could have spent much less money while attending Hofstra. Danielle, like many others today, including students wanting to go into ministry, are finding that student loans can completely devastate life goals.
THE NEW REALITIES
- Many young people cite that they are delaying marriage for 5 years or more due to student loans debt. Debt is also one of the leading causes of failed marriages.
- Few ministries will accept students who have pre-established amounts of debt.
- College debt is delaying first-time home purchases. The average age of first-time home buyers has gone from twenty-three to age twenty-nine in the last fifteen years.
- Over 50% of college graduates are working one or several non-degree-related jobs to pay off student loans.
- 30% of graduates move in with their parents for more than a year.
- 20% of graduates with student loan debt are behind in their payments.
- In the past 12 years, student debt has surpassed credit card debt, and has increased from $200 Billion to $1.3 Trillion!
STEPS FOR STUDENTS TO MINIMIZE DEBT
- In high school
- Identify potential careers and majors early. This will help students choose the right direction. The constant switching of college major has increased the average time it takes to complete a degree from 4 years to 5.5 years. Another lap around the track can cost big money! Also, poor choices for careers/majors are so common that 52% of last year’s college graduates were unemployed, or working jobs that do not require a college degree.
- Select the right college. Look at a wide range of colleges before becoming emotionally attached to a specific university. Good private colleges often are willing to reduce their price substantially.
- Get the best initial offer. Set up an interview with a department head who is able to put some pressure on financial aid. Be consistent and compelling during interviews and admissions essays. Get some coaching beforehand if possible.
- Negotiate a better package. Certain schools compete with other colleges on specific programs. Find out which colleges those are and apply to those where you know you can get a lower price. This helps to establish value in the marketplace. Use this when appealing for a lower tuition.
- Connect with good study partners and campus ministries before you arrive. Over 26% of college freshmen drop out during their freshman year, usually because they are unable navigate their new freedom and social environment. Academics suffer and students lose scholarships. Furthermore, 70% of Christian freshmen leave the faith in their first year on campus. Connecting with a campus ministry and finding friends who follow Jesus is key to continuing to grow in the faith throughout college. Becoming involved in these groups early is essential. You can find and connect with ministries now at www.CampusMinistryLink.org.
- In College
- If you have an excellent GPA, it’s possible to use the above process to further reduce your tuition. You can also use this same approach with graduate schools.
- There are new ways to consolidate and refinance existing federal and private student loans.
- Help your younger siblings and friends by sharing this information about the business of college.
WE WANT TO HELP
You can find practical resources from our partner www.BelieversCollegePrep.com. They would love to share strategies to help your family, church, or school find the right majors and careers, as well as avoid excessive debt. They also can provide in-depth consulting services for families. Email john@BelieversCollegePrep.com for a free college strategy talk.
Campus Renewal will also soon be launching Campus Ministry Link, a tool where you can find more resources like these as well as search and connect with campus ministries no matter what college you attend or are planning to attend. Be on the lookout for more information about Campus Ministry Link’s launch in the near future.
John Decker is the Director of the www.BelieversCollegePrep.com and is working to start Campus Ministry Link. During his 27 year career in business development at Lockheed Martin and Philips, he planted an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter at Syracuse University, where he saw the importance of the first weeks of college. This led him to become the Northeast Director of Youth Transition Network and onto his current position.