Once a student, always a student: Be smart with your college career

By Postie Editors

With the start of the fall semester comes the bleak realization that, unlike your K-12 education, you have ever-increasing tuition in the form of an e-bill waiting for to be repaid and looming in the not-so-distant future.

In order to cope with the rising cost of a college education, students are turning, in ever increasing numbers, to student loans.

For the 2011-12 school year, the United States Department of Education spent more than $1 trillion on funding for higher education. Oakland University is no exception.

According to the OU common data set, Oakland students were given $20.6 million in need-based federal aid in 2011-12.

Of that number, only 512 full time undergraduate students had their financial need completely met without the use of loans, according to data compiled by the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.

In addition, Oakland students took out $26.5 million in student loans.

Currently, there is no statue of limitations on collecting federally granted student loans, meaning students are able to continue taking out money so long as they stay enrolled in school.

That’s the problem.

A bad economy combined with high interest rates is making it damn near impossible for many students to pay back their loans, forcing some to default, which ends up ruining their credit and costing them more in the long run.

According to the State Higher Education Finance fiscal year 2011 report, the average default amount was $17,005.

And that’s where being smart comes in.

Oakland’s tuition isn’t cheap. A 4-credit lower division course costs $1,364. If you’re taking a full course load, you’re looking at a bill of $5,456 for one semester, or $10,912 for the whole year.

That’s why it’s important to make the most of your dollar.

Partnerships with various community colleges allow Oakland students to obtain OU degrees at a fraction of the cost.

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, consider taking a few lower-level classes at Oakland or Macomb Community College. Also consider not spending your financial aid refund checks — if you’re lucky to get them — on pointless items and be sure to plan ahead.

Though we’re notorious for sometimes missing our classes to meet deadlines, we can’t stress how important it is to attend every one of your lectures. After all, skipping one of your 4-credit Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes will theoretically cost you $34.10. That’s a nice dinner with your significant other.

The economy may be ailing and jobs may be scarce, but the amount of jobs that require only a high school diploma is drastically decreasing.

According to a story posted by Mlive.com, Michigan needs at least 40 percent of adults to hold college degrees. Today, that figure is about 37 percent.

Therefore, it’s important now more than ever to get your college degree, so plan carefully.