I am a 24 year old Journalism and Anthropology major at Howard Community College in Columbia, MD. In my 2 years of attendance, I have received nearly a full ride due to scholarships and grants.
So why am I $26,000 in debt? Well, $16,000 of it came from an art school in Philadelphia whose credits would not transfer to any Maryland schools. The remaining $10,000 came from student loans I used to help offset the cost of having my son in preschool so that I can go to class. I have recently applied to transfer to American University, University of Maryland and Towson University but the thought of their tuition makes me ill.
My husband and I are quite responsible when it comes to our finances and live well within our means. However, we will most likely have to maintain a 'one year in school, one year off to save' type schedule to avoid graduating $70,000 in debt. I maintain excellent grades and work part time jobs (with full time hours) but I still can't come out ahead with enough money to attend a four year college and most likely won't graduate until 2014.
A college degree is practically a necessity to navigate this economy, but is it worth the debt? I believe so, but I also think students should explore their options. Community colleges are an excellent way to kick start your education at a fraction of the cost of a four year institution. Although my story isn't the most typical, you can graduate (or transfer) from a community college with little to no debt and still be able to attend a four year. However, remaining virtually debt free may be a thing of the past once you leave.