Author Topic: Trying to help my students  (Read 10924 times)

MrsPete

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Trying to help my students
« on: March 24, 2015, 09:34:21 AM »
So, chatting with my high school seniors today ... they want to know about borrowing for college, and -- of course -- I'm talking about avoiding borrowing.  I'm throwing out ideas, and they're rejecting them:  I can't possibly work during school!  The school I've chosen is 24K/year, and my parents can't pay that!  (Did that topic never come up when you were making that choice?)  Whatever I could earn during the summer wouldn't make any difference in the long run.  My parents told me just to borrow it; they say it'll be $1400/month in repayment later.  I'm sure I'm going to get a scholarship that'll cover at least half. 

I want to help them!  I'm trying to give them good advice! 


Neustache

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2015, 09:48:05 AM »
Maybe take them down a different road...one where if they don't borrow, go to community college/live at home/cheaper school then they don't have to work forever.  Show them compound interest. 


I just read a great book "Made to Stick" and yet I'm having a hard time giving you advice on how to do just that!  They said to make it concrete....simple....suprising....credible...and emotional.


Wonderful book.  Let me chew on this.  I want to become a teacher and I'm determined to sneak in personal finance in whatever I teach (going for science now...but I'll get it in there somehow!). 

Kris

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2015, 09:51:40 AM »
So, chatting with my high school seniors today ... they want to know about borrowing for college, and -- of course -- I'm talking about avoiding borrowing.  I'm throwing out ideas, and they're rejecting them:  I can't possibly work during school!  The school I've chosen is 24K/year, and my parents can't pay that!  (Did that topic never come up when you were making that choice?)  Whatever I could earn during the summer wouldn't make any difference in the long run.  My parents told me just to borrow it; they say it'll be $1400/month in repayment later.  I'm sure I'm going to get a scholarship that'll cover at least half. 

I want to help them!  I'm trying to give them good advice!

If you want to help them and they are rejecting any of your ideas, maybe the best thing you can do is to show them the "average" student loan that students are taking out right now (isn't the average somewhere nearing $30,000 these days?) and then show them how long that loan would take them to pay off, assuming an "average" interest rate with the minimum payment.  And how much actual money on top of the original principle they would be paying.  That might at least make it more real for them.

The problem, of course, is that most 18 year-olds have only the most abstract notion of what $30,000 is.  But they at least have some idea of what, say, $300 is, and how long it would take them to earn that at their part-time jobs right now.  Showing them how many years of paying $300/month, and how that might hinder their ability to save for a down payment, e.g., might make them think a little.  And then you could delicately suggest ways to avoid that kind of debt.

Neustache

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2015, 10:14:06 AM »
I might come up with more..but here's what I have now. 


The Game of REAL Life

Get two of your not shy students to be the examples.  Loving Life Larry or In Debt-Darryl.  Or whatever names you decide on - they will play your characters.


Get fake money from the LIFE board game.  Or if you are daring, use real money but on a scale (dollars are worth a hundred or a thousand). 

Set it up so that they've both gone to school, but Loving Life Larry has done it your way - no loans.  They finish at the same time.  You can probably take it from there.  Give them paydays......then take In-Debt Darryl's money away from him ($1400 a month in student loan repaymanets).  For now...Loving Life Larry just saves simply his extra cash and starts to build a stash that is physically viewable to the students.  If possible, use dollar bills to represent 100's. 

After a year of paydays Loving Life Larry has a nice wad of cash - over 14K.  Because he made 30K and lived off of 16K and now he gets to stop working for 10 months to travel.  AT this point you will need goofy touristy props to put on Larry and then send him somewhere.    Meanwhile In-Debt Darryl has to work. 

Is this too cheesy?  I don't know if it will translate well.  You'll need two kids who aren't shy and will totally play along.  In-debt Darryl needs to look tired, frowny and weighed down with life.   Larry needs to live it up. 

The message:  Money buys you freedom.   Debt buys you work.

Something like that.  Tweak to fit your students. 

WhatIsFrugalAfterAll

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2015, 10:14:36 AM »
I mean, going to college and incurring some debt was my path to a mid 6 figure income. There are different ways to win the FI race, not all of them involve no or cheap college...  Just need to be smart about loans, loans to be a Dr or programmer are probably good, loans for art history are not.

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2015, 10:26:33 AM »
You are doing a great service to your students. I would pick about 10 likely occupations and the starting salaries for those occupations. Then I would walk them thru the likely expenses such as FICA, Federal and state taxes, rent, etc.

If I didn't pay my son's student loans, their payments would have been in the $1,200 a month range because they went to pricey places. But they got jobs right away (class of 2014), but most of their friends did not find jobs.

Le Poisson

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2015, 10:47:50 AM »
Put it in the context of something tangible - maybe cars.

Put up a pictograph. The student who pays while in school and avoids loans has an education that costs him about the same as 2 Chevy Cruze. Then do teh math, figure out the lifetime cost of the student loan and see how many Cruzes the loan costs.

GueroKC

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2015, 10:55:24 AM »
Have to agree with WhatIsFrugalAfterAll...taking out loans for an engineering or computer science degree from a state school (bonus points if do your pre-reqs at a community college) is probably one of the best ROI you can find.

I would emphasize that point more than anything. Wanting to work in the humanities or do social work is by no means a bad life choice, but taking out tons of loans with that as your end goal is setting yourself up for a financial catastrophe.

galliver

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2015, 11:17:20 AM »
I wonder if you  might be too categorical in your statements. When someone comes at you saying this is The Right Way and any other way they want to do a thing is The Wrong Way, of course they get defensive. You've written about your students before, and IIRC you are an English teacher in a lower-income/lower-performing school (kudos, btw, I totally respect what you are doing :) ). This means when you say the Right way to go to college is debt-free, that puts it out of reach for them. This means when you say they should go to community college, they hear that they are Less Than; that they aren't worth the better-perceived education. When you tell them not to rely on the scholarship, what they probably hear is that they shouldn't go for it, that they aren't good enough to get it, even if it's not at ALL what you said.

When trying to persuade, you are walking a thin line between not having an impact because you're too supportive of their viewpoint, and not having an impact because you're too opposed to it and get "locked out." You need to meet them where they are, at their dreams and life plans; and then show how they are shooting themselves in the foot if they are relying entirely on loans or making their schooling decisions without considering cost. If you have any leeway in the curriculum, you could introduce some news articles about related topics (individual stories about the burden of student loans, the effect of major choice, starting salaries, etc). If you don't have the time/leeway to get into it to any reasonable degree, I don't think you stand a chance of changing their minds.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2015, 11:23:30 AM »
I'd recommend that they take to heart the notion of being a poor college student.

Remind them that even though they may be able to get loans that also cover their living expenses, it isn't a good reason to have inflated living expenses. 

Is being miserable at 25 worth it to live in the awesome apartment with amenities like tanning?  Or is there a less expensive option that still lets them live comfortably and safely? 

Do you need to go out to dinner every night, or can you learn to cook to save money and eat more heathfully?

Do you need an all events sports pass, or realistically do you just go to football games and can spend the cash on the one baseball game a year you attend? Even better, can you save money and make money by not buying tickets at all and doing something like babysitting during football games (you make mega bucks there).

Suggest things like community college over the summers to save money on some classes; or to take 16-18 hours a semester instead of 12 to graduate on time or sooner.

lizzie

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2015, 11:27:44 AM »
I would consider finding a way to share stories from young people with lots of student debt who can tell them what it really feels like to carry that debt and the impact that it's having on their lives. I seem to remember there being a New York Times Magazine story profiling a bunch of young people with student debt, but my Google-fu is failing me.

Travis

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2015, 01:44:44 PM »
Have to agree with WhatIsFrugalAfterAll...taking out loans for an engineering or computer science degree from a state school (bonus points if do your pre-reqs at a community college) is probably one of the best ROI you can find.

I would emphasize that point more than anything. Wanting to work in the humanities or do social work is by no means a bad life choice, but taking out tons of loans with that as your end goal is setting yourself up for a financial catastrophe.

+1 to this.  We tell kids they all need to go to college, but never sit them down and educate them on making sure they'll be doing something worth the investment.  That's not to say there are bad degrees out there, but if you rack up a ton of debt to get a degree that could never pay it off it then you've really hurt yourself.  There are studies done every year that list degrees, their cost, and likely career fields they feed into as well as whether that field is on the rise or decline.  Supply and demand usually doesn't factor into our college choice, but it sure matters the moment we graduate.

I agree with iowajes' assessment as well.  Students need to understand there's nothing wrong with sucking it up for 4-5 years (or doing community college first) and forgoing some of life's pleasures in order to earn a degree that will set them up for the rest of their lives.

Le Poisson

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2015, 01:57:07 PM »
We are going through all this with our teen right now.

Our first struggle was just getting her to believe in herself enough to apply to go on in school. She is not a high-grade student, and thought she would be rejected everywhere. We convinced her to apply to a wide spectrum of programs in a variety of schools. She ended up applying to everything from computer science to nursing to office admin to music programs.

She told me she was hoping to be accepted in Personal Support Worker (PSW) - it was only a one year program, and then she could start at a salary of about $20,000 and live at home for a while.

When the acceptance letters came in for everything she had applied to, it was a big confidence boost to her. I took her to tour the campuses she was most interested in , and now that she had a vested interest, things took on a very different approach than just walking around the schools. PSW started to look less appealing when she looked at placement rates of some of the other programs we'd applied to on a whim.

She sat and talked with a prof of electrical engineering, and after taking up about an hour of the prof's time, decided that this was the program for her. Just one problem - we hadn't applied for that program. So we went home and reapplied to all the schools, this time for electrical engineering.

Guess what - she's been accepted everywhere AGAIN - so now we've re-toured a number of campuses and she has decided where she wants to go. Which is thrilling.

But she only has enough cash saved for tuition - nothing else. So we've told her to get her butt in gear and start saving to cover books, expenses, etc. She will graduate without debt, but its up to her to pay for year 1. We have an account to cover years 2 forward. To me its important for her to have an investment in herself.


TrMama

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2015, 03:36:48 PM »
When I was in HS I remember a couple of of our young teachers spoke quite openly about how much they owed on their student loans every month, how much that affected their life now and how they wished they hadn't spent so much on clothes and beer when they were in school.

It made it real for me, because they were just a few years older than me. I could relate to them. If you have some coworkers like that, see if you can recruit them to talk to your class.

Raste

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2015, 03:46:29 PM »
Money buys you freedom.   Debt buys you work.

As a side note:

I'm going to embroider this quote on a pillow. One for me and one for my mustachian sister. Thank you!

MrsPete

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2015, 06:29:10 AM »
Lots of good answers here ...

On the one hand, I really care about these kids -- especially this little group with whom I was chatting yesterday.  They're some of my favorite 2015 graduates, and when they asked me to "talk them through" how to get student loans ... I hated the question. 

What I really wanted to say was, "You've all chosen to attend a 24K school, and you tell me that you can't afford it.  Wouldn't you be better off -- while the opportunity still exists -- to choose a less expensive school?"  But in situations like this, teachers aren't supposed to have opinions.   

Ironically, one of them just had 2K worth of senior pictures made.  She's a beautiful girl, and they are gorgeous pictures. 

On the other hand, I really don't have the freedom in the curriculum to do full-fledged games, etc., though I agree that they'd be a good idea.  I do use articles on student debt, etc. as non-fiction reading -- those always garner lots of comments.  And while the ideas presented here are GOOD, some of them overstep my bounds as their classroom teacher. 

When one of them commented that the payback for the student loans would be 1400/month, I did ask them how much they expected to make right out of school, and they were all a bit fuzzy.  The girls in this small group (and I'm talking about three people) are all planning on the same major, and it is one that comes with a big salary ... however, I do have my doubts about their ability to make it in that major.  They're all genuinely nice girls, but they're not taking AP classes.  I strongly suspect they're all going to end up "downsizing" their majors to something a bit more ... accessible?  I've talked to them -- gently -- about having a backup plan, but I can't say to them, "Look, you didn't make As in regular high school Chem, and I don't think you're going to be successful in this hard science major."  The point:  I fear they're assuming they're going to do well in this VERY tough major ... and they're assuming that they're going to have a BIG salary.  At 17-18 years old, they will not believe otherwise.   

I did talk to them about the life of a poor college student.  I talked about having worked 2-3 jobs in college, and they had trouble believing that.  I talked about working 3rd shift and working all night, then going straight to class.  One even asked, "Are you allowed to have two jobs at once?"  Naive.  And I told them truthfully that I was MORE POOR in the first two years out of college than I was during college.  I don't think they believed me.  After all, college degree = money.  Doesn't everyone know that? 

No, I don't teach in a low-performing school.  We do have a large percentage of free lunch kids, but we're actually one of the top-performing school districts for our state.  I am right now teaching two classes of the lower level students in our school. 

It hurts me to know that they're making choices that're going to make their lives hard later, and I'll talk to them about it -- but, if my previous years have taught me anything, I know they'll go right ahead and do what they're planning to do.  And their parents are onboard with loans. 

Finally, what was the name of that book that was recommend?  I'm definitely going to read that myself.

Neustache

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2015, 07:16:54 AM »
If you are talking about the book I'm reading, it's Make It Stick. 

It's slow going, because it will get your teacher brain going, for sure. 

Le Poisson

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2015, 07:39:55 AM »
Whelp - if they ever go in imgur.com, its full of students whining about debt loads. There's a lot of stuff a teacher can't recommend students look at there though, and it can be addictive to just browse.

Here (Ontario, Canada) no students are required to apply for OSAP - (Ontario Student Assistance Program - the government administered student loan program) however; if you apply - regardless of whether you are considered for the loans, you will be eligible for a 20% reduction in tuition, and to apply for grant-based work on campus. If you don't apply, you cannot go after those grants. If you accept OSAP, you will find yourself embroiled in the same debt that crushes so many students.

Its bass-ackwards that the government here holds out debt as a carrot to get government assistance so you don't need the debt. Luckily the interest and payments on the debt don't kick in until you stop attending. Our plan is to apply for the loans, invest them for the three years of school, and then cash out the investments to pay off the loan on graduation day. With the money locked in for the duration of school, she won't be able to spend it without our permission.

I was late to go to post-secondary ed. I finally got around to it with a mortgage, a kid, and a wife who couldn't work. OSAP was happy to give me loans in the order of $21,000 a year. At graduation, my mortgage and loans were about the same size. (I had a super-cheap house which I should have kept. But thats another story.)

Jack

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2015, 08:27:16 AM »
When one of them commented that the payback for the student loans would be 1400/month, I did ask them how much they expected to make right out of school, and they were all a bit fuzzy.  The girls in this small group (and I'm talking about three people) are all planning on the same major, and it is one that comes with a big salary ... however, I do have my doubts about their ability to make it in that major.  They're all genuinely nice girls, but they're not taking AP classes.  I strongly suspect they're all going to end up "downsizing" their majors to something a bit more ... accessible?  I've talked to them -- gently -- about having a backup plan, but I can't say to them, "Look, you didn't make As in regular high school Chem, and I don't think you're going to be successful in this hard science major."  The point:  I fear they're assuming they're going to do well in this VERY tough major ... and they're assuming that they're going to have a BIG salary.  At 17-18 years old, they will not believe otherwise.   

I think it might be helpful to go through at least a short example with them. Do it on the blackboard, in front of the rest of the class. Pick one of the students -- ideally, the one who needs the biggest reality check -- and find out the median salary for people with that major (not the median salary of whatever occupation she's aiming for, the median salary including all graduates, including ones who lesser jobs, or who don't get jobs in their field). Then help her make a list of all her expenses other than the student loan payment, with you adjusting upward when she underestimates. Make normal assumptions, not mustachian ones. Then, once she's got all that added up, subtract the expenses from the salary and see what she has left over each month... then subtract that $1400 student loan payment, show that the total goes negative, and make her cut expenses (especially the "fun" ones) until it goes positive again.

After a few minutes of you saying "you're $1400 short, better cut out that vacation fund... you're still $1200 short, better cut that eating out budget.... you're still $1000 short, better give up saving for a down-payment on a house... you're still $600 short, better plan to walk instead of driving a new car... you're still $300 short, better get a roommate" hopefully they'll be enlightened.

If any of the students aren't enlightened, then make them do the same exercise as homework.

Le Poisson

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2015, 10:13:42 AM »
Thought I'd post this here in case you or other teachers can use it: http://imgur.com/gallery/3gvbs3P

PencilThinStash

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #20 on: March 25, 2015, 10:18:34 AM »
If you are talking about the book I'm reading, it's Make It Stick. 

It's slow going, because it will get your teacher brain going, for sure.

+1 on the Made to Stick recommendation. Excellent book.

MoneyCat

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #21 on: March 25, 2015, 06:57:54 PM »
I tried to warn my little sister not to go to a private college and not to take out student loans, but, of course, she ignored all my advice and she's well on her way to debt slavery for the rest of her life.  It's tough when it's someone you really care about, but some people just want to build their own prisons.

MrsPete

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #22 on: March 26, 2015, 06:13:18 AM »
I tried to warn my little sister not to go to a private college and not to take out student loans, but, of course, she ignored all my advice and she's well on her way to debt slavery for the rest of her life.  It's tough when it's someone you really care about, but some people just want to build their own prisons.
Yeah, I didn't say it, but I bet most of you suspected it anyway:  The girls whom I'm describing have chosen the same small, private college. 

I hate to be "against" any institution of higher education, but we have in our state a good smattering of these schools -- they have lackluster academic reputations, and they accept students who -- to say it politely -- didn't excel in high school.  They're populated by the kids who probably shouldn't go to college, or who should choose community college, but whose parents have deep pockets.  The kicker:  These girls are not tip-top students, but they're top 20% in their class; they don't "have to" go to this second-rate, overpriced school. 

Keep in mind that we live in a state with 16 good state universities, all of which have better reputations than the small, private school in question.  My older daughter is currently a junior at one of these schools, and her education TOTAL is costing me less than one year at the school these girls will attend. 

They DID listen to me the other day.  I know because they brought the subject up in class again, and they all seem a little uncomfortable, which is a good thing.  We talked a little more, and I invited them to ask me questions -- now or later.  One said that she "has to" attend this school because she's already "accepted" the school and put down her $200 (or maybe it was $300 deposit) towards fall tuition.  Yeah, I know what you're thinking:  Okay, you've put down a couple hundred -- now you're forced to borrow 100K?  Doesn't add up.  Another says that this Cruz guy out of Texas, the one who's hoping to become the Republican nominee for president, is dedicated to the idea of student debt reform.  I am somewhat heartened that they are now concerned, whereas previously they accepted "everyone borrows". 

I have an assignment coming up after spring break -- one I've used before -- that uses some articles about student loans.  Hopefully that'll help them a bit too. 

Having students read articles does work well.  I'm remembering a couple years ago when one of my students came to class ENRAGED that -- was it Romney? -- who made a comment in a presidential debate, something like, If you can't afford college, you just shouldn't go to college.  She took it very personally, and she would not believe that she was changing the message significantly.  So I gave half the class articles about Obama's public statements on student loans ... and the other half articles on Romney's thoughts on student loans.  And each group had to summarize/present to class the candidate's thoughts.  It came down to this:  Obama said that college is simply too expensive, and schools should voluntarily lower their prices.  Romney thought that if you can't afford your dream school, you should ask your parents for money, get scholarships, or choose a less expensive school.  In the long run, the class knew what each candidate had said ... and they thought neither was really a friend to the potential college student. 



sleepyguy

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #23 on: March 26, 2015, 08:25:01 AM »

mm1970

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #24 on: March 26, 2015, 10:52:02 AM »
I might come up with more..but here's what I have now. 


The Game of REAL Life

Get two of your not shy students to be the examples.  Loving Life Larry or In Debt-Darryl.  Or whatever names you decide on - they will play your characters.


Get fake money from the LIFE board game.  Or if you are daring, use real money but on a scale (dollars are worth a hundred or a thousand). 

Set it up so that they've both gone to school, but Loving Life Larry has done it your way - no loans.  They finish at the same time.  You can probably take it from there.  Give them paydays......then take In-Debt Darryl's money away from him ($1400 a month in student loan repaymanets).  For now...Loving Life Larry just saves simply his extra cash and starts to build a stash that is physically viewable to the students.  If possible, use dollar bills to represent 100's. 

After a year of paydays Loving Life Larry has a nice wad of cash - over 14K.  Because he made 30K and lived off of 16K and now he gets to stop working for 10 months to travel.  AT this point you will need goofy touristy props to put on Larry and then send him somewhere.    Meanwhile In-Debt Darryl has to work. 

Is this too cheesy?  I don't know if it will translate well.  You'll need two kids who aren't shy and will totally play along.  In-debt Darryl needs to look tired, frowny and weighed down with life.   Larry needs to live it up. 

The message:  Money buys you freedom.   Debt buys you work.

Something like that.  Tweak to fit your students.

I like this.  But I'm a numbers gal, so I'd go further and make up a spreadsheet.

One side, you have the guy who works in the summers and part time and lives at home, and do the math on how much it costs, and maybe also have them take an extra year, because that is often the case.
Other side, borrow everything.

Show them how much they will have to repay per month.

At the same time, for their chosen major - go to glassdoor or salary.com and look up the typical starting salary.
Do the same for a "reduced" major. (And point out that they aren't taking AP classes, and they should be if they want to do the hard major).

A little math on:
Low Borrow "A" vs. high borrow "B"
High income 1 vs. lower income 2

Nice little matrix of how little money they will have to play with.  And maybe show them links of people who borrowed too much money.

Bobberth

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #25 on: March 26, 2015, 03:59:12 PM »
I taught personal finance to high school seniors for 6 years.  Here's a tip: They don't care.  They're 17/18 year olds.  Most don't know the concept of money other than they get to spend their gift money or part time job money on fun stuff.  They've been trained by their parents in how to handle their money for their whole lives.  I was assured by all of my students that they "Wouldn't be stupid enough to have credit card debt" when we talked about that.  It's easy to say that in a hs classroom.  It's much harder not to buy a new outfit for a weekend out or drinks for a friends birthday.  And why should they stay in on a Thursday night when they can spend student loan money on pot and booze?  Besides, what do they care about debt?  They're all going to either be rich or marry rich so paying for it won't be hard.

A few may be mature enough to take something from it, but most won't and aren't even capable.  One thing that I thought worked well (for 17/18 year olds anyway) was that for the last assignment of the year, I had them interview their parents.  I had specific questions to ask their parents and I had them make up several more to get them talking about finances.  The questions I had were geared to getting them to talk about their parents starting out: What was your first job?  How much did you get paid?  What was your first car?  How much?  What was your first apartment like?  What was the first piece of brand new furniture and when? etc.  When they came back to class we shared in class and I led a discussion of how they have been living with their parents for 18 years.  That means their parents have been earning and progressing through life for 18 years too and that you don't just start out where their parents are now-nice cars, Ethan Allen furniture, big salaries etc.  Now, my students were at a private school so results may differ at other schools, but I remember a girl who was blown away by her Dad's first car and that he had to work to buy it.  He had a successful construction business and she, "Just assumed they were going to buy me a brand new car."  Again, they are 18 year olds and have no concept of money but the discussion was very good. 

Is it bad that I really want to go back to a reunion and ask them about credit card debt???

MsPeacock

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #26 on: March 26, 2015, 08:01:23 PM »
I think they may not actually understand the debt and it is almost certain that they are clueless on the cost of other things - like a car payment, car insurance, cell phone, rent, health insurance, clothing, groceries, etc. So, aside from talking about debt vs. savings or cost of college it might be very worthwhile to have them research not just future income but the cost of things. So, you want a 3 bedroom house in a nice neighborhood? Assign a student to look at zillow  or realtor.com and report on house prices - and mortage payments (which are easy to find right on the listing). HOw many months will it take to save $40k for a downpayment assuming you can save $1000 per month?  How much does an entry level X make in your choosen field? Figuring car payments, insurance, etc. can just as easily be done online. Same w/ cellphone and average utility bills. Making $15 an hour or whatever, minus taxes, now long do you have to work to pay for your cell phone? For airplane tickets to fly home to visit? For new shoes? For a $50 dinner out, etc.

Louisville

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #27 on: March 27, 2015, 09:52:53 AM »
...What I really wanted to say was, "You've all chosen to attend a 24K school, and you tell me that you can't afford it.  Wouldn't you be better off -- while the opportunity still exists -- to choose a less expensive school?"  But in situations like this, teachers aren't supposed to have opinions...

...And while the ideas presented here are GOOD, some of them overstep my bounds as their classroom teacher...

... I've talked to them -- gently -- about having a backup plan, but I can't say to them, "Look, you didn't make As in regular high school Chem, and I don't think you're going to be successful in this hard science major." ...

Is there a district policy against telling the truth?

MrsPete

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #28 on: March 31, 2015, 10:30:47 AM »
... Here's a tip: They don't care.  They're 17/18 year olds.  Most don't know the concept of money ... I was assured by all of my students that they "Wouldn't be stupid enough to have credit card debt" ... They're all going to either be rich or marry rich so paying for it won't be hard ...

One thing that I thought worked well (for 17/18 year olds anyway) was that for the last assignment of the year, I had them interview their parents.  I had specific questions to ask their parents and I had them make up several more to get them talking about finances.  The questions I had were geared to getting them to talk about their parents starting out: What was your first job?  How much did you get paid?  What was your first car?  How much?  What was your first apartment like?  What was the first piece of brand new furniture and when? etc.
Yep, I can tell that you know teenagers, and I love the idea of an interview dealing with money -- I'm ruminating on how I can work that idea into my own lessons. 

And it makes me remember taking my daughter to interview my own grandmother about her education.  I learned quite a bit!  She went to college (2 year degree) in a day when women typically didn't do that, and I was surprised to hear her talking about her father taking her to school in a wagon full of turnips -- the school accepted turnips in partial payment for tuition.  And she talked about how the academic building (building, singular!) turned down, and her first year they had all their classes in the church. 

Is there a district policy against telling the truth?
I can tell you're not involved in public education!  Yes, there's a strong prohibition against making students question their parents' beliefs.  This means teachers do not discuss religion, political ideas, giving birth to more children than one can afford, and -- yes -- money management.  If asked, we can give facts, but opinions -- only very carefully.  In an ELA class, we can use news articles that inform students.  We have some serious problems in public education today.   

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #29 on: March 31, 2015, 12:39:55 PM »
I highly agree with the idea of showing them examples. They have know idea what, for example, $1400/mo loan payments really mean. Life expenses and big numbers are totally fuzzy to them and they're probably too embarrassed to ask.

The trick is to walk the line between showing how hard it is vs. making it sound impossible, which will either make them doubt that you know what you're talking about or make them stop thinking about it entirely.

My school did this as an exercise we were supposed to do by ourselves in class. We picked a major, were given an average starting salary, and haphazardly given some newspapers to figure out prices from and told to come up with a budget. I believe I picked a STEM major. I got my grocery number by dividing in half what I knew my dad spent on groceries for our 3-person family and was told that was too low. All together I kept going way over my salary number and ended up telling the teacher I would just live in my car. She laughed and shook her head and said that wasn't really feasible. Even living in the car I couldn't get the numbers to work. I was finally like, fuck it. The whole exercise seemed more designed to knock teenagers down a peg than to teach them anything helpful. Like, say, what the numbers might look like if you lived with 2 roommates, or how much work it takes to find and evaluate a used car, etc.

There's nothing wrong with teenager's abilities to think big picture, that's why second-hand generalized ideas don't appeal to them. It's the specifics and experience that can help them form their own ideas that have a better chance of sticking.

justjenn

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #30 on: March 31, 2015, 01:31:46 PM »
I highly agree with the idea of showing them examples. They have know idea what, for example, $1400/mo loan payments really mean. Life expenses and big numbers are totally fuzzy to them and they're probably too embarrassed to ask.

The trick is to walk the line between showing how hard it is vs. making it sound impossible, which will either make them doubt that you know what you're talking about or make them stop thinking about it entirely.

My school did this as an exercise we were supposed to do by ourselves in class. We picked a major, were given an average starting salary, and haphazardly given some newspapers to figure out prices from and told to come up with a budget. I believe I picked a STEM major. I got my grocery number by dividing in half what I knew my dad spent on groceries for our 3-person family and was told that was too low. All together I kept going way over my salary number and ended up telling the teacher I would just live in my car. She laughed and shook her head and said that wasn't really feasible. Even living in the car I couldn't get the numbers to work. I was finally like, fuck it. The whole exercise seemed more designed to knock teenagers down a peg than to teach them anything helpful. Like, say, what the numbers might look like if you lived with 2 roommates, or how much work it takes to find and evaluate a used car, etc.

There's nothing wrong with teenager's abilities to think big picture, that's why second-hand generalized ideas don't appeal to them. It's the specifics and experience that can help them form their own ideas that have a better chance of sticking.

I had to do the same exercise in school. It really opened my eyes, but still didn't capture everything. There are also a bunch of life's little expenses that add up that teens don't think about because their parents take care of it. I still remember my first post-college Costco trip and could not believe how much I had to spend on essentials like soap or floss.

You also have to realize that you can't reach all of them. Their minds might just be made up. When I was a senior I was going to an out of state college, cost be damned. My home life wasn't that great, and college was my ticket out of there. The debt didn't matter because that was future-me's problem. And future-me was obviously going to be rich and successful, right?

pagoconcheques

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #31 on: March 31, 2015, 01:46:37 PM »
Kudos to the OP for trying, as this is a difficult topic and one that is likely to have some parents lean on the school administration for discouraging kids from going to college. 

Along with compounding, the concept of ROI is something that should be taught and internalized by the time kids finish middle school--both are so much more useful in real life than most of what goes on in math classes. 

The whole discussion on whether college is worth what it costs is too often discussed without bringing up the differences in job markets and pay for different majors.  I have a basic feeling that the total cost of a college degree should be less than what a graduate from that school with that major can earn in the first two or three years working. 

scottish

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #32 on: March 31, 2015, 08:46:44 PM »
My daughter's heading off to university next year, and I came across this posting on the University of Waterloo website.   It's really talking about how engineers apply economics, but it does a nice present value analysis of university degrees.   I don't know if the math is too much for your class, but it might be something you can adapt.
https://profbillanderson.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/engineering-economics/

SpicyMcHaggus

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #33 on: April 01, 2015, 10:36:49 AM »
Alright; I  tell this story too much, sometimes I think I'm beating my own dead horse.  Regardless:

Me: 31, Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from a state university.
Graduated 2011. (Had a few years of screwing off).
Own 1 duplex(have mortgage), paid off car, no debt other than credit cards which I pay in full each cycle.
$70k+ income (started near 50)
never had $1 in student loans. I worked enough bartending and internships to pay tuition in full each semester.
In retrospect, i might have made more money investing that cash and taking deferred loans and then paying off when the interest started... but hindsight is 20/20 etc.

My fiance: 30. RPH/Doctorate Pharm
Graduated 2010. Straight loans all the way.
Owns her duplex(has mortgage), paid off car.
HAD 6 figures of student debt when we met.
Income: $120k +/- depending on if she takes extra shifts or not

Long term, her career will pay off. BUT there are plenty that will not:

Friend Jessica
31. Masters Psychology/counselling. Private schools.
Graduated 2008
Boatloads of loan debt. Overly rich family helped pay some of it.
Worked unpaid for years (3+) just to be considered for a job.
Got staff job. Pay was less than $40k. Quit. Opened own counselling shop. Unknown how this is going.



Unless your school is in the top 10 for that major, you may be better off getting a state college degree. I know a whole bunch of part time retail jocks or stay at home mommies that graduated with environmental science, english, literature, art, psychology, spanish, etc.  If you want to be useful, choose a STEM field. Go to a great school, and work hard.  Do the research and decide if $300k in debt for that private college diploma is worth it when the job prospects top out at $50k / yr.

Axecleaver

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #34 on: April 01, 2015, 01:11:02 PM »
I would cover two important issues related to student loan debt:

1. LOAN ORIGINATION FEES. Explain that this is money a student has to pay back, but never gets to use. It's the initial cost of getting the loan. Federal loans charge 1.073% for most loans, but a stunning 4.292% for parent PLUS loans. That's just money you flush right out the drain, and then pay interest on for 10-30 years. High origination fees are the biggest scam going, IMHO.

2. Recent changes in bankruptcy laws that exclude student loans from bankruptcy.

Good luck! You're doing them a tremendous service by at least getting them thinking about the problem.

pagoconcheques

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #35 on: April 03, 2015, 03:02:12 PM »
I know that financial types will talk about debt to income ratios when it comes to buying a house. 

Does any financial adviser/columnist/etc. have a ratio of student debt to income potential?  That would be interesting to put out on the table.  Obviously, the income potential is critical.  The factors that play into income in the first few years after graduating are (at a minimum): major (STEM is probably best), school (reputation in the particular field of your major), location (job market), and GPA (as an indicator of how much you actually learned in your time studying for your major). 

Where is this info?

BPA

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #36 on: April 04, 2015, 12:32:27 AM »

On the other hand, I really don't have the freedom in the curriculum to do full-fledged games, etc., though I agree that they'd be a good idea.  I do use articles on student debt, etc. as non-fiction reading -- those always garner lots of comments.  And while the ideas presented here are GOOD, some of them overstep my bounds as their classroom teacher. 

When one of them commented that the payback for the student loans would be 1400/month, I did ask them how much they expected to make right out of school, and they were all a bit fuzzy.  The girls in this small group (and I'm talking about three people) are all planning on the same major, and it is one that comes with a big salary ... however, I do have my doubts about their ability to make it in that major.  They're all genuinely nice girls, but they're not taking AP classes.  I strongly suspect they're all going to end up "downsizing" their majors to something a bit more ... accessible?  I've talked to them -- gently -- about having a backup plan, but I can't say to them, "Look, you didn't make As in regular high school Chem, and I don't think you're going to be successful in this hard science major."  The point:  I fear they're assuming they're going to do well in this VERY tough major ... and they're assuming that they're going to have a BIG salary.  At 17-18 years old, they will not believe otherwise.   

I did talk to them about the life of a poor college student.  I talked about having worked 2-3 jobs in college, and they had trouble believing that.  I talked about working 3rd shift and working all night, then going straight to class.  One even asked, "Are you allowed to have two jobs at once?"  Naive.  And I told them truthfully that I was MORE POOR in the first two years out of college than I was during college.  I don't think they believed me.  After all, college degree = money.  Doesn't everyone know that? 


I hear you.  I sometimes will relate my own experiences to my students, but considering I'm old enough to be their mother, I think they may think my advice is somewhat dated.

They do ask me a lot of questions about my lifestyle which is markedly different than most teachers'.  I am the only one on a staff of 85 who does not have a car.  The comment frequently about how they see me biking and walking everywhere.  That opens up a lot of conversations where they are asking the questions, and by answering, I am not overstepping my bounds. 

I am lucky that one of the courses I teach is Media Studies and I get to ask them all of the time to decide what their values are, and then live according to them and I give lots of examples from my own life.  (I even recently showed them the movie The Joneses which they loved and made them think.)

sheepstache

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #37 on: April 04, 2015, 10:08:25 AM »

I hear you.  I sometimes will relate my own experiences to my students, but considering I'm old enough to be their mother, I think they may think my advice is somewhat dated.

They do ask me a lot of questions about my lifestyle which is markedly different than most teachers'.  I am the only one on a staff of 85 who does not have a car.  The comment frequently about how they see me biking and walking everywhere.  That opens up a lot of conversations where they are asking the questions, and by answering, I am not overstepping my bounds. 

I am lucky that one of the courses I teach is Media Studies and I get to ask them all of the time to decide what their values are, and then live according to them and I give lots of examples from my own life.  (I even recently showed them the movie The Joneses which they loved and made them think.)

Ha ha, yeah, we had a history teacher who would use examples from his life (no idea what it had to do with the history lesson now that I look back on it). One I remember was that he said he'd spent 12 dollars on his pants at a church trunk sale because he didn't care about looking like other people (unlike us trendy teenagers). And there I would offer the caveat of not putting down teenagers because a) like anyone they get defensive and b) like anyone it doesn't makes sense to group them all together.  My reaction was, well, but you do look exactly like a middle-aged, married high school teacher.  The point that you could look how you wanted without paying full price might have been the better lesson for this example.

But what I wanted to get to is that I know for a fact that at least 2 people refused to go into debt to buy a car because he'd told us he saved up cash for his first car after college. So I definitely think personal examples are a great way to get the information across. If you think about it, they subconsciously follow the examples of their parents in a lot of things, so leading by example isn't ruled out by being older.  It's a bit like early retirement. People aren't necessarily not doing something because they've rejected the idea but maybe because they never considered the possibility.

BPA

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #38 on: April 04, 2015, 01:32:36 PM »

...

Ha ha, yeah, we had a history teacher who would use examples from his life (no idea what it had to do with the history lesson now that I look back on it). One I remember was that he said he'd spent 12 dollars on his pants at a church trunk sale because he didn't care about looking like other people (unlike us trendy teenagers). And there I would offer the caveat of not putting down teenagers because a) like anyone they get defensive and b) like anyone it doesn't makes sense to group them all together.  My reaction was, well, but you do look exactly like a middle-aged, married high school teacher.  The point that you could look how you wanted without paying full price might have been the better lesson for this example.

But what I wanted to get to is that I know for a fact that at least 2 people refused to go into debt to buy a car because he'd told us he saved up cash for his first car after college. So I definitely think personal examples are a great way to get the information across. If you think about it, they subconsciously follow the examples of their parents in a lot of things, so leading by example isn't ruled out by being older.  It's a bit like early retirement. People aren't necessarily not doing something because they've rejected the idea but maybe because they never considered the possibility.

I think that's it.  They have never considered the possibility.  I get asked questions like "How do you get groceries without a car?" and "How did you manage to buy a house as a part-time teacher?" and those who have started driving totally understand how much money I save by going car-free.

Some have started cycling to school and two have now told me that they never plan to own a car. 

My son is their classmate and they notice that he doesn't suffer from our way of life.  I buy him fashionable clothes (sometimes second hand) but fewer of them, he gets game systems after they've been out for a year or a year and a half and he often buys games second hand, and when they were little, they thought he was lucky that he didn't have to go to an after-school program because I was always there to walk him home from school.  They also liked that I always had homemade cookies. 

He has told me that even though our house is so modest compared to his dad's, he likes where we live better.  He says that there is less stress and he feels more comfortable not living in such a fancy place.  His friends and classmates see that and I think it really does make them question their preconceptions of how life is supposed to be lived.  Whatever decisions they make with their lives, I'm glad that someone of them are able to see that there is another way.

Sofa King

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #39 on: April 04, 2015, 05:12:14 PM »

MrsPete

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #40 on: May 08, 2015, 06:53:05 PM »
I'm here to update this story, and it's better than I expected.  Did I make a difference, or did other factors play into it?  I can't say, but I'm happy to report that two of my three girls have decided against borrowing big.  Typically kids have to "commit" by May 1, and these girls ALL held out 'til the last minute to make their decisions. 

- One girl decided she's going to a different, still expensive private school; however, the other school she's chosen is close enough that she can live at home.  So she's still paying more in tuition than is necessary, but she's not spending on housing and meal plans.  Her parents are fairly well off and can pay off most of the tuition.  She expects to borrow some but not nearly as much as she had anticipated. 

- The second girl, whose parents were able to pay nothing and who was going to borrow the entire amount x four years, has seen the sense in choosing a state university.  She is still borrowing the entire amount of her college education, but it's going to be about half what she was planning to borrow. 

- The third girl is still plowing straight ahead with her expensive-private-school-at-any-cost-and-critics-be-damned plan. 

So, when the time came to commit to a college, two of the three DID choose to think about the borrowing.  Could they have made better choices yet?  Oh, yes, I think so, but these choices are better than the ones to which they were originally committed. 
My school did this as an exercise we were supposed to do by ourselves in class. We picked a major, were given an average starting salary, and haphazardly given some newspapers to figure out prices from and told to come up with a budget.
Thing is, that type of exercise often falls flat because so many of our high school students are starting out with unrealistic majors; if they could actually stick with those majors, they'd be okay with debt -- but I can guarantee you they aren't going to end up in those careers in a few years. 

To illustrate the point:  I'm thinking of a kid in my class who thinks he's going to be a vet.  His GPA is about 1.0.  He has taken only the lowest level math and science classes in high school, and his people skills are complete crap.  But he "loves animals" and so he wants to be a vet.  Oh, and he's from a poor family that doesn't provide much in the way of guidance and support for his academics.  Yet this kid is sure he's going to enter the medical field and become a doctor.  If he did this "pick a major" exercise, he would complete it assuming he's going to be a vet, and a bunch of debt would look reasonable. 
People aren't necessarily not doing something because they've rejected the idea but maybe because they never considered the possibility.
I agree with this statement.  The world seems to project the idea that you SHOULD choose any college without regard to expense.  And the world seems to suggest that "everyone" borrows, so what's the big deal?  I agree that at the root, the problem is lack of thinking realistically.

Sean_in_london

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Re: Trying to help my students
« Reply #41 on: May 09, 2015, 07:12:44 AM »
The NZ central bank developed a game to teach high school students financial literacy. It focuses on investment rather than debt but may be useful as part or a lesson plan.

Quote
The financial world can be confusing - there are so many financial products on offer and it is often hard to understand what it all means. Skint to Mint teaches students about some of the investment types on offer, be it term deposits, shares or property. It shows them how to assess the risk and reward involved in these investments by using tools such as credit ratings.

http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/skinttomint/