09/06/2011 05:11 pm ET Updated Nov 06, 2011

Debt That's Worth It?

I am a 31-year old woman originally from Ohio working and living in New York City area. I graduated with a Master's degree in Speech and Interpersonal Communications from New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development in 2007. Logging into the Federal Student Aid website I see that today my balance is $104,104.63 for a percentage of the information in my head.

I see that some people featured on in this section have answered the question, "Is the debt worth it?" I would say that I don't know, but I hope so. Like so many young people, I went to college because it was the next "thing" to do. When I went, I had not dealt with a lot of financial aspects of life yet so the thought of "owing" someone was a foreign concept. Without a full ride or the motivation to apply for scholarships I figured student loans were the only option.

So how are things now? The balance of my student debt and the constant addition of interest makes me overwhelmed. There is some relief in the fact that I am not alone. I do not feel like I my life or my decisions to relocate, travel, job positions have been effected by my student debt.
So far, I have not been in a place financially to contribute anything towards my debt but I am not in default or in jeopardy of that status. I am currently using a forbearance option and lately have considered a Ph.D in order to defer the payments even further into the future.

Advice that I would offer to a person who is college bound is do your research so that if and when you need to rely on student loans -- you will feel like the debt is worth every cent. Pursue the major that most aligns with your dream job not just your dream salary. I would be remiss to say that you don't need to attend a traditional college but, if you want to be taken seriously, you do need to invest in educating yourself, so whatever that looks like for you make sure that the investment is worth it.

It is not enough to just hear from the colleges' perspective how much your earning potential or what are good career choices... ask real people. Take advantage of the option to shadow someone while you are still in high school and get a sense of the working environment is like. It should not be too hard to find someone working in your potential field and people are always more than willing to share their experiences to help someone else.