Author Topic: Taking on a loan?  (Read 1393 times)

Rosesss

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Taking on a loan?
« on: January 26, 2018, 11:03:27 AM »
Hi, I need some advice. When I was a teenager I got sick and never had more than my high school diploma. I am 30 now. For the last few years, I have been taking some university classes through an online school. Only a few courses here and there because of the costs. (due to my lack of education and illness I have an income of about 1000 a month, I live simply so I manage but there is no room for more than the basics)

I used to get a discount at this school because of low income but due to changes in the system this discount is gone and I cannot afford full price. So far I have managed to accumulate almost 50% of the classes needed to get a bachelors degree. The government and the school offer a 0% interest loan to finish this education. I really don't want to quit and be without any education after all this work for the classes I have taken so far but I don't want debt either. So far, I see my options as:

-Take the loan and finish my bachelors. Due to illness and the type of degree (humanities area) I don't expect to make much more money though after finishing this. The loan would total about 12-15.000.
-Quit this school and use the classes I finished so far to get into a regular university. However, I would have to take out a loan for that too and start in the first year and retake the classes I already finished. I could get a degree in something that would make a bit more money perhaps but the risk of failing is much higher due to going to a school every day and all the travel might be a problem for my health at some point. The loan would be higher in the end, around 38.000.
-Quit and be without debt but no options for the future either.

Being sick and the resulting lack of money has really not been good for my self-esteem. I strongly want a degree and a chance of a better job in the future. However, there are limited options for someone in my situation at my age. I need some outside perspectives on what would be the wisest thing to do. Taking on a loan, something I have never done, on a low income especially, makes me nervous. But having no education is far scarier.

Does anyone have any advice or options I haven't thought of?

marty998

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Re: Taking on a loan?
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2018, 02:08:11 AM »
Complete the degree with the online university. It is obviously important to you to continue and accomplish this so I'd encourage you to finish it through your current provider.

But try and find a few courses that will be relevant to a future career and jobs that will pay a bit more than you think you're worth.

Shoot for the moon and you'll land among the stars etc etc...

Rosesss

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Re: Taking on a loan?
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2018, 03:02:28 AM »
Thank you for your reply. At the moment I just can't see many options after I 'missed out' on the things people do and accomplish in their early twenties. Not a lot of options at my age. I don't know if it is about me thinking I am only worth this but living on such little money for so long makes you incredibly cautious. I can't just randomly start expensives courses or do anything basically. I feel trapped and don't see the way out of this situation. An outside perspective tends to help. :)

zygote

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Re: Taking on a loan?
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2018, 10:12:09 PM »
I agree with marty998 that it's probably worth it take out a loan to complete the degree with the online university. The main things I would consider are:

1) The 0% interest rate. I assume that it's only 0% while you're actively finishing your degree? What is the interest rate once you graduate and have to start paying the loan back? Make sure you know what you're getting yourself into.

2) The reputation of your university. I believe that you can get a great education online, but society is still catching up to that idea. Do some googling and ask around to make sure your degree won't be dismissed. Definitely make sure it is a non-profit, accredited university. I know of people who have been burned because the university seemed legitimate, but they couldn't get hired because employers didn't take it seriously. If there is any question about how your degree will be viewed, it may be worth taking out a bigger loan to go to a regular university.

3) The nature of your illness. You don't have to address this here, just something for you to think about yourself. Will it be possible to work in an office job with some level of accommodation? The ADA requires companies to make reasonable concessions to employees with medical issues (ergonomic desks, work from home arrangements, flexible schedules, time off for medical appointments, etc.). But if your illness is such that you don't think any kind of full time work will be possible, that may make the loan less worth it. I don't know your situation - you are the best judge of what is possible.

Taking into account these points, it's definitely possible to pay off a 12-15k loan with your increased income potential from having a college degree, even in humanities. So many jobs just want to see a degree and some work history, and they don't care what the degree actually says. (That said, it's worth looking up some job descriptions in your area and seeing what they require to make sure that's true.)

But congratulations on making it so far through a degree without any debt. You've put yourself in a great starting position, and it's so smart to be thinking through all of this before you blindly enter into a loan. You may feel like you missed out on things people do and accomplish in their early twenties, but so many young people go to college just because they feel like it's the next step and don't realize what they're doing with the debt.

Rosesss

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Re: Taking on a loan?
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2018, 05:17:05 AM »
1) The loan is a government study loan and paying back starts in the new year after graduation. (that how they have set it up) Every calendar year they set the interest rate and you pay the rate they have set in the year of graduation. I checked and the last ten years or so it has always been 0% with one year exception where it was 0,12%

2) The reputation is good and it's accredited. However, how individual employers see online study may vary.

3) I hope and expect to be able to have some sort of office job in the future. If not full-time, then at least part-time.

Jobs in my area are limited. When I look at jobs being advertised in this area it's mostly technical jobs (engineering, electricians, mechanics) things I would not be suited for. Other jobs are physically hard work like care assistant for elderly people etc. There is a high level of unemployment. There is a demand for physiotherapists and speech therapists, education programs I could possibly get into but they would be 4 year programs in a city 2 hours away.

Clara Smith

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Re: Taking on a loan?
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2018, 01:10:16 AM »
Find those companies who give load without interest. And take the load from these type of companies. 

Miss Piggy

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Re: Taking on a loan?
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2018, 11:56:03 AM »
I'm going to disagree with some of the above comments. You say you see yourself doing "some sort of office job" in the future. And you say you don't expect to make much more than you already make.

In that case, what's the point of getting the online degree? Many, many office jobs don't require a degree. Why waste the money and time getting one if you don't have a clearer vision/plan for how you would use it?

Online degrees are not well-respected in the real world. I'm sorry, but that's just a reality/challenge. I might compare it to a GED vs. high school diploma; one is just "better" than the other in people's minds. One is "real" and the other is "a not-so-close substitute."

You say your school is accredited, but those credits you've earned won't transfer to a brick-and-mortar school? That raises a red flag for me. Big red flag. Credits from an accredited school should be transferable to another accredited school, within reason.

I know some of those online schools are accredited. They are also marketing and loan machines. And in my opinion, some can be predatory. Their websites are impressive and lead people to think they are going to a well-respected school, but mentally, non-online-degree-earners don't see any equivalence between online and brick-and-mortar colleges/universities.

It's not just about the loan. I would hate to see you put so much time and energy into something that may not improve your job/money situation in the end. Please do a lot of research so you can make a fully informed decision.

jodelino

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Re: Taking on a loan?
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2018, 01:39:54 PM »
As a retired college teacher, I commend you on your pursuit of education, and encourage you to fully explore all of your options. If being a speech therapist, with a four-year degree from an institution in a city two hours away, is a career that excites you, try to make an appointment with an admissions officer, financial aid officer, or the department chair, and discuss your situation. There might be scholarships and other financial aid available for adult students, for students with disabilities, or some other kind of financial aid that you would qualify for.

Another route is to apply for a job at the college with the degree program that you like. Most colleges and universities offer tuition benefits to their employees. It can take a while to finish a degree this way, but I've seen secretaries get a BA this way, move into a better job at the university, and then get an MA, and keep moving up.

The cautions from other posters about online universities are valid. If your credits from the online university don't transfer to a four-year school, that is a red flag. A great way to cut down the cost of a four-year school is to start at a community college. Many community colleges have transfer agreements with four-year colleges: for instance, if a student gets a certain GPA at the community college, he/she is guaranteed admission into the four-year program for the final two years, with all credits transferring.

And don't feel bad about being 30! Thirty may not feel young to you right now, but it is young! Adult students are wonderful. One of my all-time favorite students was a guy who returned to college in his 40s after working in a bakery for many years. He got a journalism degree and is now working for a newspaper.

Good luck!



Rosesss

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Re: Taking on a loan?
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2018, 04:33:06 AM »
I'm going to disagree with some of the above comments. You say you see yourself doing "some sort of office job" in the future. And you say you don't expect to make much more than you already make.

In that case, what's the point of getting the online degree? Many, many office jobs don't require a degree. Why waste the money and time getting one if you don't have a clearer vision/plan for how you would use it?

Online degrees are not well-respected in the real world. I'm sorry, but that's just a reality/challenge. I might compare it to a GED vs. high school diploma; one is just "better" than the other in people's minds. One is "real" and the other is "a not-so-close substitute."

You say your school is accredited, but those credits you've earned won't transfer to a brick-and-mortar school? That raises a red flag for me. Big red flag. Credits from an accredited school should be transferable to another accredited school, within reason.

I know some of those online schools are accredited. They are also marketing and loan machines. And in my opinion, some can be predatory. Their websites are impressive and lead people to think they are going to a well-respected school, but mentally, non-online-degree-earners don't see any equivalence between online and brick-and-mortar colleges/universities.

It's not just about the loan. I would hate to see you put so much time and energy into something that may not improve your job/money situation in the end. Please do a lot of research so you can make a fully informed decision.

Thanks for your reply. I don't have any clue what I would like to do for a job or what would suit me. I once started this school as a way to have something to do and now that I have so many classes finished I wouldn't want to waste it by not getting the degree. The points are worth the same as at a regular university and could transfer to a brick and mortar university but the nearest university doesn't offer the same program so I would have to do a similar but different program and therefore not be able to transfer those classes I have already taken.

Basically, I don't know what do to or what I would want to do. I know I am going stir crazy being home so much but the travel and the crowds at a regular university would most likely be far too intense and overwhelming for me. I am stuck, not just financially.

Miss Piggy

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Re: Taking on a loan?
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2018, 08:08:08 AM »
Okay. Thanks for the additional information.

Have you talked to any financial aid people at the nearby colleges/universities/community colleges? I wonder if there are any grants and low-income assistance (not in the form of a loan) that you would qualify for?

Prior to your illness, what did your teenage self envision as a potential career? Whatever that was, is it still something you're interested in? Or is there something in the same field that would be more up your alley today? (Maybe your "old" passion isn't quite as possible today with the illness, but is there something close?)

I'm not a career counselor or anything; I'm sure there are people here who are much more qualified to give ideas for exploring options. But one idea is to take some sort of career assessment to evaluate what might excite you. (Perhaps there's an online career-oriented forum where you could get better advice.) Do any friends or family members have jobs that make you think "that sounds like something that would be interesting..."? What are some unique skills or pieces of knowledge you bring to the table? (For example, you have learned how to navigate a difficult illness during an important phase of life. Perhaps helping others do the same is something you'd be interested in.)

jodelino is right. 30 is not old by any means. That said, I highly recommend having a vision for what you want to do/be in the future and using that as the basis for deciding what to do about school.

Wayward

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Re: Taking on a loan?
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2018, 10:05:46 AM »
I would caution taking on loans if you don't have a vision for what you would like to do/what options are available to you job-wise, otherwise you could end up putting more time, effort, and money into a dead end.  In my opinion, start searching for job options that would be doable with your health condition and see what degree/background would be needed, if any.  Reach out to some employers you are interested in and see what it would take for you to start, mention you have credit in xyz.  Not all jobs require a degree, some (like UPS) even offer tuition reimbursement.  A degree does not automatically guarantee you a great job and is not always the best option for everyone.

Don't let "sunk costs" rule your emotions!  Just because you've already committed time, effort, and money into the online classes doesn't mean you are limited to that path.  Figure out what you want to do first, then go from there.   

Since the job opportunities may be limited in your area, have you looked into remote careers?  I understand the need for socialization and feeling productive, just don't think a degree is the only route to reach your goals.

As a side thought, would working limit your financial assistance?

Good luck and keep us posted! 
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zygote

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Re: Taking on a loan?
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2018, 03:15:57 PM »
Yes, hearing more information I agree with other posters. It sounds like the job market in your area is not as good as I was expecting. In mine, a college degree is necessary for most office jobs.

I personally wouldn't take out the loan before you figure out exactly what kinds of jobs you're targeting, how realistic they are in terms of geography/your skills/etc., and what education is necessary to get them.

As another poster suggested, try looking around at remote jobs. Then you wouldn't be constrained by what's available in your area. Things like medical coding, medical transcription. I'm sure there are many others, those are just the ones I have personally come across. Some remote job listings are actually scams, but those ones are usually easy to spot. If they sound too good to be true, they are.

wonkette

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Re: Taking on a loan?
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2018, 04:38:31 PM »
Before you move forward I think there is more you need to understand about how financing college works. Check out the resources on studentaid.gov including the videos. I don't mean to be condescending, maybe you have it all figured out and just didn't want to type out all the details but just in case (or for other people reading this). Here is one page about borrowing limits https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/loans/subsidized-unsubsidized

How do you get to a total cost of between 12,000 and 15,000? Is that over one year or more than one year? How are the loan terms zero percent? Federal student loan interest rates are set by the federal government, and you want federal student loans because those are the ones with the consumer protections you need - including income-based repayments, public service loan forgiveness, and disability discharge.

Make sure they break down that amount of for you, especially because borrowing limits for undergraduates are capped at $7,500 for the third year an beyond. Is the rest of the money in private loans? Be sure you understand what those private loan terms are, they don't have the protections mentioned above even if they are (somehow) 0%.

How many semesters of Pell grant eligibility do you have remaining? (From what you posted your expected family contribution should be zero making you eligible for the full $5,900 grant) Though I believe you have to enroll at least half time, which you might not have been doing. Would you be able to take on more courses if you had grant aid to cover them?

Student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and if you fall into default they can garnish your wages and/or SSDI payments. If you don't have something specific motivating you to take on this debt you should proceed with caution.

zoe2dot

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Re: Taking on a loan?
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2018, 11:10:48 AM »
Look into that Pell grant - it's not merit based so if you meet the criteria it could be a boon.  This sounds like you: Federal Pell Grants usually are awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's or a professional degree.
https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/grants-scholarships/pell

Closed captioning, online booking, medical billing - all good remote jobs
https://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=remote+jobs&l=

You don't have to be passionate about your degree or your job
https://www.themuse.com/advice/why-follow-your-passion-is-pretty-bad-advice

It is very likely that you'll get a job outside of your degree
https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/how-to-get-a-job-outside-your-college-major

Many schools offer a general studies degree - if you don't know what you want to be doing pursue that
https://www.collegeconfidential.com/is-general-studies-the-best-or-worst-major-you-can-pick/

Rosesss

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Re: Taking on a loan?
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2018, 04:04:39 AM »
Thanks everyone for all the replies. I am not in the US so not eligible for the US grants or other financial aid programs. Here things work differently. You can go to a brick and mortar university and get a monthly amount of money that is a set amount for every student regardless of situation or type of program you are studying. From that money, you can pay school payments, books and part of your living expenses. You have the option to get a little larger amount per month, usually an option chosen by those who cannot work a side job. For example people like me or those with lots of workload for school and no time. After finishing the degree you have to start paying the loan back monthly. The amount you pay can be set higher or lower depending on income. (set lower you will of course pay for a longer time)
You pay interest based on what is set on the year of graduation. Most previous years, however, have been zero percent or 0,12%

If I continue my current school I would have the option of getting a certain amount of loan per class. (I have to ask for the loan per class I am taking) This is only to cover the school costs. The year after graduation you start paying back. The interest is the same as what they have set for the brick and mortar school that year. Roughly, based on the classes I have still to go, that would be 12/15 thousand.


What I want to do is a difficult question for me. Working in a museum has always seemed appealing to me so in that sense my current school would be suited for that but there isn't much if any work there. (most museums are run mostly by volunteers) What I have always wanted is to have a practical skill in something. (maybe because I currently feel so useless ;) ) Think of people like a dentist or a baker, they both have very clearly defined jobs with practical skill sets. Something useful. I want something like that, some specific job to work towards. What I do know about myself is that I am not suited to be in large groups, I function best alone or with a small group of people around me. I have seriously considered both physiotherapy and dental hygiene but being so close to strangers would not be for me.

Rosesss

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Re: Taking on a loan?
« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2018, 04:15:17 AM »
Wayward, yes, working would stop my financial assistance. But I am very happy about that. Getting assistance helps me keep a roof over my head and food on the table but it doesn't do much for my confidence or joy in life. If I could be completely free of it because I have a job to pay the bills I would be so happy.
It would all depend on how much money I would make at a job. If the job is too low-paying or due to my health I would be needing to work part-time then without the assistance, I would be in even bigger financial trouble than currently.