THE BLOG

Government Can Help, But Not Much...

10/17/2012 06:47 pm ET | Updated Dec 17, 2012

There's a lot of talk right now about student loans. Romney is in favor of reverting student loans back to the banks with the government getting out of the student loan business other than guaranteeing the loans. When Obama took student loans away from the private lenders it actually reduced the cost of the student loan program for the taxpayers.

Right now the government actually earns interest on the loans. Reverting to the old system means the government (make that tax payers), has to pay all the subsidies (the interest while the student is in school, deferment subsidies, guarantor subsidies, etc), to the banks with no ability to earn anything on the loans. It's far more costly to all of us.

Hopefully as we all head off to our polling places we will keep this in mind. However, no matter which way the election goes, students need to take charge of their own college indebtedness. Waiting for or hoping that the government will bail them out is simply not going to happen, nor should it. Taking on debt and worrying about how to pay it back later is a recipe for disaster. Just ask any adult mired in credit card debt, it's no different.

But there are things students can do to reduce the amount of debt they will take on as they attend college. One of the most important being; have an education plan while in high school and stick with it -- even when you don't want to. Yes it's more fun to hang out with your friends than to study for an AP class, volunteer at your local homeless shelter or go to track practice.

But, you will pay for those lazy afternoons for a long time. The more you have to offer a college the better the offer of aid they will make to you. Get cost estimates on the colleges you're considering. Look for colleges that typically dispense more financial aid. Get top grades and take AP courses. If you aren't challenging yourself in high school you won't be able to get into a top college. Finally, visit the college before you agree to attend. Transferring from one college to another can set you back as much as one year and cost thousands of dollars.

The rising cost of tuition is a serious problem but neither political party is putting forth anything that will change that. This leaves students and families to grapple with how to pay for their education. One thing is certain it's never been more important than it is now for high school students to take advantage of everything they can while they are still enjoying the benefits of free education.