The big question: Will online student loan debt be worth the final price of an online university degree?
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- Ubiquitous and misleading ads by private student loan lenders. Private lenders often advertise heavily, telling students they can borrow large amounts without the hassle of applying for financial aid. But government-backed student loans often have much better terms, says Fooke.
- Pressure by for-profit online college admissions officers to sign you up. Some admissions officers—particularly those at online for-profit colleges who need to enroll larger and larger incoming classes—may pressure students to act fast, before they research all their options. “There are plenty of schools that are sending out mail and email telling people to apply and enroll at their school with very little regard to their debt levels,” says Scheer.
- Lack of financial aid counseling. Online schools don’t always counsel students about financial issues. Castro says that because she went to school online, it would have been a “huge task” to seek out advice from an on-campus financial expert, so she asked family members instead.
Sanchez says neither EPCI nor the University of Phoenix Online counseled him about debt. Would more information have made a difference? “Absolutely,” Sanchez says. “I’m not sure I would have kept going to school had I really known the position I’d be in today. "You feel like you get educated and all your problems are solved, but this has just put a tremendous burden on my family. I don’t feel like I really gained a whole lot, at the end of the day.”
Will your new online degree be worth the cost and student loan debt? Ask yourself that question—then take out student loans accordingly.
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