Q: How much student loan debt is too much? More specifically, how much should a student take out in student loans, so that the debt will be manageable when done with college?
A: The answer to this question is quite subjective, and will vary depending on whom you ask. In fact, some may even tell you that any amount of student loan debt is too much. However, college is expensive, and most students (and their families) are unable to fund college expenses without the help of loans, leaving some amount of student loan debt a simple reality for the majority of college graduates. The key to effectively managing student loan debt is responsible borrowing. Students should fully understand the terms of the student loans they are borrowing, and should borrow only as much as they can afford to repay after they graduate.
To get an idea of the amount of debt you can afford to repay after college, you may need to do a little research. How much a student can afford to borrow can be different based on each individual’s financial circumstances and/or field of study. For example, a Medical student may be able to (safely) accrue more student loan debt than an Art or English student, because typically doctors will make much more money in their career fields than most Artists or English teachers. Many financial experts will advise students to borrow no more for their entire education than their expected starting salary after they graduate. For those looking to minimize student loan debt, there are options. Scholarships, grants, work-study, working while attending college, and enrolling at a less expensive college are some of the most common ways to help reduce student loan debt.