Readers Share Their Student Debt Reasons and Experiences

In my post Trends in College Tuition vs. Bachelor’s Degree Wages; Interesting Demographics of Student Loan Debt History I noted skyrocketing student loan debt, especially in the age group 30-39. See article for details.

Since 30-39 is not the typical school demographic, I asked readers 30 years or older who are sitting on a pile of student debt to share their stories and reasons.

A summary of reasons and email snips from readers follows.

Reasons for Skyrocketing Student Debt in Age Group 30-39

  1. Interest rates are so low they encourage not paying off loans
  2. Interest rates are so high and job salary so low that debts cannot be paid back
  3. Economic incentives for special ed teachers and others
  4. Divorce sends middle-aged mothers back to school to get a job
  5. Divorce and child payments sends middle-aged men back to school seeking better opportunities
  6. Pressure to get into management, and management requires additional school
  7. Exploitative ads
  8. Deferred payments
  9. Employers unnecessarily require college degrees 
  10. Those who get married after high school decide to go back to school later in life
  11. Parents co-sign loans shifting debt responsibility to higher age group
  12. Job loss sends middle-aged persons back to school hoping for better opportunities

Email Anecdotes

Reader Steve, went back to school to become a special education teacher. He purposely loaded up on debt because "both our state and the federal government offered economic incentives in the form of student loan forgiveness to people entering that career path. Loading up on student loan debt was the only rational fiscal decision available to us."

Reader Tom went into debt thinking it was a great deal because his loans were at a low rate for 30 years. He now has the cash to pay off his student loans but does not because he "bets that boring index/asset-allocation investing will average better than 3.6% nominal over the next 15-20 years."

Reader Dave and his wife have a combined $90K in debt at a not so attractive rate of 6.8%. Right after he got his MBA Dave reports the "economy collapsed". Dave spent 2 years unemployed, accruing interest. "We'd like to buy a house, but instead we are paying the government back at excessive interest rates."

Reader Colleen mentioned the divorce factor. Women with kids and who did not work previously may need to go back to school as a result of divorce.

Reader Beth, age 30, says "I left undergrad with relatively little debt, but grad school killed me."

Reader Jeremy suggests "some of the initial student loans are in the parents' names, adding to the 'over 30' demographic". He also suggests that right before the housing bust, "tens of thousands of people were getting $16,000 student loans to fund a 2 year real estate college." After the bust there was no way to pay the debt back.

Reader Terry complains of automatic deferrals. Terry writes "My wife had initially asked for a deferment during one semester but after that, and even after repeated calls asking them to stop, they continued to defer payments and capitalize interest. You had better watch what is going on closely or you will suffer because the incompetence is incredible. Keep a sharp eye out or better yet do not go into student loan slavery, as I preach constantly to my children!"

Reader Trish also notes loan deferments writing "I already owe more in compounded interest from having my loans on unemployment deferment than I will ever be able to repay in my lifetime. I am a responsible person who understands I owe someone this money for the education I received. But as things stand now,I will literally go to my grave owing on the loans. I know this is a horrible financial mess, but it may help to explain some of the odd stats."

Reader Lucy writes "many employers are now requiring college degrees for jobs that shouldn’t require one if you have commensurate experience.  For example, one company I am very familiar with decided that all new hires who are not hourly factory workers must have a degree.  They overlooked a very talented and experienced person who had 25 plus years of experience and more training and related skills than anyone with a master’s degree. Business is definitely contributing to the college insanity."

Reader Matthew delayed going to school, and instead got married and got a job after high school. His boss pushed him into management and "company policy was that management had to have a bachelor's degree." Matthew succumbed to the pressure and ended up getting divorced in the process. He now has his B.A. but also a mountain of debt, child support, and a job that pays $8/hour. Matthew writes "For twenty years I've been making $8 an hour. Of course, that figure is a lot less now than it was twenty years ago when I was just starting out. Would I do it again? No. Hell no. I wasted years of my life pursuing this thing, and got nothing more than debt for the effort. My entire situation sometimes makes me laugh when I think about it. Sometimes it makes me cry. Mostly it just makes me bitter. And I try not to think about it."

Reader Drew writes "Throughout the 90s and 2000s, we obtained degrees which are not supported by income. As a result, we deferred monthly payment and/or missed payments over the last decade. It's easy to see how student loans fall to the back of the bus. I'm 39 and am slowly chipping away at my wife's master's degree."

Reader Lynn writes "In Austin, television is filled with badly-acted ads from purported chef school students exhorting the opportunity to go to culinary school and become a professional in the food and hospitality industry. We’re also bombarded with ads for car title loans, quick short term loans, etc.

For people who are stuck, desperate, and not adept at critical thinking, such ads offer a glimmer of hope that will flicker out once they graduate. The offers to help are purely exploitative and I would guess if you scratched the surface of some of these entities, you would find the same players that are tied to Wall Street.

Thanks for all the work you do trying to figure this stuff out, and then putting it out there for people to read. You are a rare soul."

Reader George says "I had many classmates that were borrowing the maximum allowed (even if it wasn’t necessary) simply because they could lock in fixed payments at 2.5%."

George gets the quote of the day for his amusing comment "It’s only a trillion dollars of totally unsecured, non-asset backed debt. What could possibly go wrong?"

Reader Winston wrote a lengthy email asking "Where's the control group?" Winston is tired of studies that hype up salaries of graduates while ignoring those who drop out, and also wondering how much exceptionally bright kids would make if they simply did not go to college. Winston suggests salary comparisons ought to be based on equivalent SAT scores (those who graduated from college and those who didn't).

Billionaire Dropouts

Winston's line of thinking piqued my curiosity. Here are a few names on the Wikipedia list of college-dropout billionaires.

  • Bill Gates - Microsoft co-founder
  • Mark Zuckerberg - Chairman and CEO of Facebook
  • Lawrence Ellison - Co-founder and CEO of Oracle
  • Michael Dell - Founder and CEO of DEll
  • Ralph Lauren - American fashion designer
  • John D. Rockefeller – American oil magnate (deceased)
  • Steve Jobs – co-founder and former CEO of Apple (deceased)

From Wikepedia, "According to a recent report from Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, 20% of America's millionaires never attended college."

The report is from 2000, thus not so new, but the reference link is certainly catchy "Some Billionaires Choose School Of Hard Knocks".


If you are a brick-layer or painter, don't think schooling will turn you into a Java programmer. And if you are an out-of-work Java programmer, don't think a culinary school will turn you into a chef.

Regardless of who you are or what you want to become, please think twice if you are considering going back to school to get a degree, especially a degree from a for-profit school churning out useless degrees for which there will be no job when you graduate.

Student debt may become a trap from which there is no escape (and I have a lot of emails from readers that I did not quote) to prove it.

Thanks to all who emailed their thoughts and stories whether I referenced them or not.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

"Wine Country" Economic Conference Hosted By Mish
Click on Image to Learn More


News for factory,Allied Cash Advance,Photography,Beach Water Park,Educational Leadership,Vacation And Travel,Wedding Dress,Family Vacation Packages,Casino and Gambling,Health Insurance,Best Auto Insurance ( BAF ),Web Hosting Professional,Home Design And Remodeling,Information Property For Home,Wireless TV Networking,Business Plan Guide,Educational Guide,Custom Essay Writing Service,Plumber Service And Repair,Property House,Architectural House Plans,Car Auto Services,Computer service and repair,Computer Networking,Business Planning Strategies,Womens Giving,Healthcare and Medical Jobs,Retail Inkjet Solutions,Online Casino Games,Alcohol Drug Treatment,Web Designers,Apollo Amatuer Night,Public School Performance,Kanza Museum,Cap Inter Entereprises Emploi,Culinary Tourism,Business Traveller,Bridal Expo,Container Atlas Architecture,Culinary Tours - Packages and Travel,Dancing Ink Productions,Defend Automotive Group,Real Finance Group,Business Consulting Services,Home Design Audio,Health Projects International,Health Resources,Health Effects of Alcohol,History of education,Vietnam travel guide,Westland Foundation,Lighting Business,Networking Business Professionals,Housing Decoration,Future Business,Health and Beauty Tips,Hotel Cafe and Restaurant,Enhancing Education,Home Improvement Projects,Political Philosophy,Healthy Grieving Process ,Unique Weddings in New Orleans,Art Plus Science ,Advantage Business Media,Mutual Financial Services,Adventure Travel and Holidays,Alternative Medicine Treatments,Web Design and Marketing,Electronic Payment Solutions,Life Success in Business,Devium Car Interiors,Easy Divers Academy,Water Treatment Process,Software Development Company,MSDS Translation Language,Orion International Technologies,Refreshing Summer Wine Guide,Learn Technical Writing,Health Spa and Resort,Creative Book Publishing,Positive Business Mentality,Charter Healthcare,Discount Hotel Rates,United Industries,Warrior Insurance,County Tourism and Vacations,Wedding Ring Jewelry,Studio Design Decorative,Journalism Careers,Gaming Accessories Computing,Business Strategy Consultant,Cefori Technologies Information,Physics and Astronomy,News Fashion,Business Online,Michigan Apartments,Legal Information Institute,Guide Fashion Shipping,Home Insurance Quotes,Web Design Trends,Musical Instruments and Gear,Travel and Leisure,Importance of Education,Auto Financing Loans,Contractor Business Systems,Business Travel,Importance of Sex Education,Education Classroom,Creative Idea Laboratory,Luxury Paradise Vacations,Healthiest Alcoholic Drinks,Sports Betting,Business Environment,Business Directory,Internet Services,Top Styles,Architecture and Design,Discovery Travel and Tourism,Drug Abuse Treatment,Cheap Auto Financing,Business and Technology,Online Trading,Casino Gambling,Easy Online Shopping,Education Games,Social Media Networks,Online Dating,Luxury Honeymoons,Media and Entertainment,Home Decorating Ideas,Insurance Services,Payday Loans Online,Beechwood Travel Guide,Paradise Garden,Business Trends Consulting,Expert School Consulting,Latest Fashion Trends,Alternative Health Care,Technology Trends In Society,Health Technologies Resources,Island Wedding Services,Network Society,Gambling Experts,Medical Insurance Expert,Home Repair and Remodeling,Sexual Health Services,Education Resources,Automotive Solutions,Michigan Trade Associations,Luxury Fashion and Accessories,Theoretical Physics,Financial Advice,Adult Online Dating (Escorts),Pets Health Insurance,Better Homes and Gardens,Avastone Technologies,Discover Student Loans,Sports Authority,Vitamins and Supplements,Business Systems Online,Food Network Recipes,Business and Government,Smart Legal Strategy,Occupational Health Care,Music Education,Online Dating Tips (Expert),Online Marketing Lexikon,Citizens Council Network,Economics and Finance,Fashion Entertainment News,Luxury Travel Destinations,Online Auto Insurance,Home Improvement Loans,Building Business Foundation,Human Resource Consulting,Educational Media pay day loans
life insurance quotes
Credit Loans (finance)
Foreign Auto Parts
Health and Fitness
Drug abuse effects
Destination hotels and resorts
Professional Financial Marketing
Personal Finance
Computers and Technology
Auto Insurance
Real Estate Property
Computer Graphics Technology
Home Improvement
Arts music schools
Online Education Classes
Hotel and Travel
Security development program
Business auto loans
Medical And Public Health Organizations
Land and Homes
Better Health Kids
Engineered Heating
Trade Finance Services
Switzerland Tourism
Casa Travel
Clothing Accessories
University of Technology
Best Law Schools
Marketing Technology
Vacation Tour and Travel
Insurance Agents and Insurance Brokers
Construction Engineering
Healthy Home Economist
Masters Home Improvement
Michigan Web Design
Personal Online Banking
Health Education Foundation
Travel Pack
Real Estate and Home Ideas
Museum Vacations Travel
Free Statistical Software
Blog Free Statistical
Buying and Selling Real Estate
Educational Play
Big Top Business
Alternative Health
smooth skin
Products and Services
Construction Project Management
Northside Car Service
Online Essay Writing
France Health
Europe Program Modernization
European Travel Destinations
Science and Technology Project
Online Store Marketing
Law Society Consulting
Business Networking Company
Motivation to Study
Metropolitan Hotel
Technological Innovation
EAP Business
Travel Guide and Virtual Tours
The Business Partnership
Accessible Accommodation
Entertainment News
Medicines Agency
Carpet Cleaning
International House
VIP Shop
Online Clothing Shop
Institute Education Religion
Ford Escort Team
Shop Engine Part
Computer Hardware
Medical Career
Paris Construction
Professional Translation
Streaming Wizard
Alcoholism and Drug
Medical Laboratory
Commerce Business
Educational Kids Play
Space Education
Home Repair Volunteer
Fashion Talent
Health and Safety Executive
Play Web Games
Travel and Surfing
Property and Estate Agents
Technology Group Solutions
Student Service Center
Construction Industry
Media Center Computer
Teny Fashion
Home Remodeling Services
Inspector Network
Car Rentals
Leader Dogs
Rise Health Systems
Business Strategy Consultant
Personal Life Coaching
Company Business Coaching
Entertainment News
Physics and Astronomy
Science and Technology
Cheap Vacation Packages
World Business Academy
Planets Project
Travel and Leisure
Prevent Drug Abuse
Education Certified
Play Kids Games
Legal Defense Fund
Real Estate Strategies
Isolation Globale
Insurance Coverage Law
Rock Hotel and Resorts
Medical Insurance
Healthy Mind and Body
Marjahaan Autokatsastus
Free Sports Authority
Auto Insurance Coverage
Global Technics
Advitium Manufacturing
Professional Core Education
Special Finance Services
Bergen County Contractors
Great Children's Art
Health Supply Company
Social Media Power
Texas House Restaurant
Carbon Consultant
Carbon Expert
Low Carbon
Reset Carbon
Healthcare Commissioning
Virtual Job Tryouts
Ethos Academy (Education)
Intrinsic Schools
Attorney General
Technology Software
Business Plans
Digital Media
High School Resources
Adult Resources
Gamblers Anonymous
Ecuador Real Estate
Software Development
Festival Fashion
Drugs And Alcohol
Business Intelligence
Food Network Recipes
Journal Human Resources
Games and Technology
Technology Development
Web Resources Express
Payday Loans Bad Credit
Art and Craft
Business and Finance News
Ecological Sciences
Education Resources
Web Design
Music Education
World Resources Institute
Business Health Guide