THE BLOG

College of Debt and Despair

04/21/2015 11:20 am ET | Updated Jun 21, 2015

New college graduates are drowning in it.

It is absolutely ridiculous. It's also outrageous what colleges charge and get away with, for an undergraduate degree.

I'm starting to read and see young adults with $50,000, $75,000 and, yes, over $100,000 of student loan debt! Yowza!

Many of the graduates will have a hard time finding a job at first. Those loan payments will start to kick in as soon as the cap and gown are removed. Plus, not every college grad will get a high paying job to retire this debt.

Why put someone in a financial hole the minute the frat parties are over and they hit their first real job? It's almost as if every person I talk to just accepts that, "This is just the way it is."

Bull.

So what can we do as parents to help them get a debt-free start after college?

Send your kids to the college that offers the most money. Yep. I did. My child got scholarships and grants and is going for free. She could have gone to much more expensive schools. I didn't see the need. Send them to a cheaper community college for two years to get the basic classes out of the way. Then transfer to a larger college. It will save you a ton of cash for your own retirement.

Save for college. You get an 18-year head start. Open a college 529 account right after they are born. You can start with as little as $25 per month. So use this after all scholarships and grants are awarded. The 529 is in the name of an adult so it doesn't count against them for financial aid.

Apply for every merit and outside scholarship available. Merit scholarships are given out for grades, aptitude tests as well as community service. Spend some time searching for the unusual outside scholarships. That means if it is a scholarship for being the child of a truck driver or a veteran, or having a sixth toe... just apply. This stuff could add up. A thousand dollars here and a few thousand there.

Have them participate in work-study programs. Many colleges will reduce your tuition bill a few thousand bucks if your student works at the college. It can be as an information person at the student center or other small jobs. It won't require much time, and I see these kids with their noses in books while they sit there!

These are things I've noticed over many years, and especially this year during the college search. Think of it this way. Is that small, private college or public university really worth going into debt $30,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars?

I don't think so.

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States With Highest Average Student Debt - TICAS - Class Of 2012