NOV 11, 2019

Student debt is transforming the American family

I feel so conflicted about this topic. Undergrad played a huge role in my life and I want others to have access to the same type of opportunity. Student loans can help do that.

But given the current rate of tuition increases – it is projected to be over $100k/yr by the time my son would be applying – it is hard to imagine the cost continuing to be worth it. Tuition is outpacing inflation and income in dramatic ways.

From the late nineteen-eighties to the present, college tuition has increased at a rate four times that of inflation, and eight times that of household income.

Ending up with a lot of student debt is such an albatross. It limits your options precisely at the stage of life when you should have the most optionality.

We’ve set up a 529 account for Buckley. And hopefully it will appreciate well and help pay for some meaningful portion of his education. We’d, you know, like to help him avoid being crushed by loans.1

But I think higher education will look a lot different in 18 years. Or at least I hope that it will? I’ve worked with enough self taught software engineers to see how the internet changes education opportunities. The current system is bloated and there are practical alternatives emerging. Something is going to give… eventually.

  1. I was fortunate to get enough aid from Hamilton College and help from my parents where I graduated “with only” 65k in debt despite attending an expensive liberal arts school. I was even more fortunate to land into a first job that I enjoyed, it paid well, and offered room for advancement. This allowed me to put a dent into my student loans right away. Paying my loans off in 2017 was such a relief.