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Student Debt: The Dropout’s Dilemma


Opinion pieces about how the cost of college isn’t worth it are older than the Internet; they might even be as old as the 20th century shift in the mission of universities from finishing schools for young gentlemen and ladies to institutions that prepare students for a wide variety of professional careers.  The trouble is that the cost of a four-year degree has risen so much that, at all but the least expensive institutions, only the wealthiest students can afford to pursue higher education without taking on tens of thousands of dollars of debt, if not more.  Contrary to what Internet trolls may tell you, most students who take out loans to fund their education make careful decisions about how much to borrow, based on how much they expect to earn after they graduate.  The problem is not that students don’t have a repayment strategy; it is that the well-paying jobs on which they have based their repayment strategy have often failed to materialize.  The pandemic has only exacerbated the problem; as online education has reduced the opportunities for students to make professional connections without reducing the price tag, an increasing number of students have left college without completing a degree.  In fact, 38 percent of students who enroll in universities leave without graduating.  If you have dropped out of college during the pandemic and need a new debt repayment strategy for the new normal, contact a Philadelphia consumer law attorney.

Student Loans Are Not the Only Problem

Student loan debt is such a pervasive problem that forgiveness of federal student loans is no longer a question of if, but rather a question of when and how much.  Student loan payments are paused for now, but this does not mean that problem has gone away.  Of course, if you drop out of college without graduating, student loans might not be the only education-related debts you will face.  In some cases, students who drop out must repay financial aid money originally given to them as grants.  For example, if you drop out before 60 percent of the semester is over (before or during week 9 of a 15-week semester), you will need to repay a portion of your PELL grant for that semester.  If you got a TEACH grant but dropped out without graduating, the grant becomes an unsubsidized loan.  For other kinds of grants, the grant agreement will specify repayment requirements if there are any.

The Part-Time Student’s Dilemma

If you are determined not to drop out but need to devote more time to earning an income, you might resort to studying part-time as a temporary solution.  This might give you the income you need while enabling you to make progress toward your degree, but it might also make your loan payments come due sooner.  If you have changed to part-time status, a consumer law attorney can help you make wise choices about repayment of student loans and other financial obligations.

Contact an Attorney for Help

A Philadelphia consumer attorney can help students and former students for whom full-time study is no longer a feasible option.  Contact Louis S. Schwartz at CONSUMERLAWPA.com to set up a free, confidential consultation.



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