Student loans are good when handled well

The sore subject of student loans arose again with the Traverse City Record-Eagle editorial in the Dec. 5 edition of The Alpena News. Much of the soreness comes from cases where people borrow more than they need, just because they can, and don’t apply the funds toward education that leads to employment enabling one to pay the loans back. I remember one Occupy Wall Street protester who had majored in anthropology at an expensive private college. Now he had no career prospects and over $100,000 of debt. He was enraged. What could he have done differently?

* Major in a field with good career potential and devote his spare time to anthropology.

* Lives within his means as a student, as much as he can.

* Research and apply for all scholarships for which he is eligible, since many go unclaimed.

* Best of all, start at a community college and finish at a university he can afford.

Because of the bad publicity about student loans, some students avoid them altogether, choosing instead to attend college part-time and work full-time at minimum wage with no benefits This opposite extreme doesn’t make sense either. The best course for a student involves a frugal lifestyle, search for the best value, determination to complete college on schedule, and clarity about options after graduation. There’s nothing wrong with part-time work that doesn’t jeopardize graduation on time. The remainder of expenses can generally be covered by need-based grants, scholarships, and a modest amount of debt. Oh yes, let’s remember the importance of looking ahead and saving for college beforehand.

ACC faculty and staff have an outstanding record of success in helping students with these matters. I just wish they had gotten ahold of the young protester before he got into so much trouble.

Olin Joynton