How much should I borrow for college?


M. Erez Kats, Seattle Language Arts Teacher

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How much you borrow is mostly determined by the cost of tuition and room and board, etc. at the college you would like to attend, or that you get accepted to. This amount can vary greatly from school to school, and depending on how much money you earn (or your parents earn), whether or not you live in the same state as the college, or whether or not a schoool's reputation means a tremendous amount to you or not. Often you are paying for a name in college, and perhaps not the quality of the professors or education, but sometimes the two go hand-in-hand. Either way, schools tend to cost what they cost, and unless you can get a full scholarship or a great aid package, you are not likely to save much off of the cover price. A school like UCLA could cost you as much as $140,000 in 4 years, whereas a quality in-state school or even a community college (such as U-Dub here in WA, where the give great aid packages for in-state students) or even colleges like Evergreen State college, that is a great school but doesn't have quite the same reputation as say a Harvard or Yale, etc. might only cost you $35,000 in 4 years. Housing, food, and transportation will also factor into this, and it's important to work out a budget ahead of time, while also finding a school that's a great fit for both you and what you want to study. Hope that helps and I wish you the best of luck with this.

Marguerite Dennis, Higher Education Consultant

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When you’re applying to college, consider whether the schools on your list set limits to college loans and whether these limits are tied to starting salaries. Some of the best college financial counseling programs will do this. The concept is getting some traction at federal and state levels. Ask the question, especially if you are certain of your major. Starting salaries will differ in different parts of the country and world. Try to get information specific to your area in the United States or world.

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