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How much debt is worth it?

cougar23cougar23 Registered User Posts: 160 Junior Member
edited April 2012 in Brown University
I have my heart set on going to Brown after ADOCH, and I can't see myself anywhere else. I plan to major in Economics or BEO (formerly Commerce, Organizations, and Entrepreneurship).

I was also accepted at the University of Michigan and would only have to pay in-state tuition (which my parents would cover.)

Brown will be affordable for me freshman year, because my family has two students in college.

Next year, however, the Brown FinAid department said my EFC could double. That would mean I would take on a substantial amount of debt to get my Brown degree.

My question is - How much debt would you take on for the Brown education? It is the perfect fit for me, and I dread the thought of going to Michigan for a variety of reasons.

Let me know what you think. Thanks!
Post edited by cougar23 on
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Replies to: How much debt is worth it?

  • itsme2itsme2 Registered User Posts: 43 Junior Member
    what would be the base for them to say your next year's EFC could double?
  • cougar23cougar23 Registered User Posts: 160 Junior Member
    My brother will be graduating from USC, which would double our contribution
  • itsme2itsme2 Registered User Posts: 43 Junior Member
    in the meantime, you parents potentially could afford a little more.
  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
    In-state at UMichigan is around 25k. Brown is around 50k. Assuming you're getting some aid (since your EFC has already impacted your first year financing) and assuming that your parents were willing to pay the $25k stated, you're talking probably somewhere along the order of $60-70k in debt. That's a fairly big amount.

    If you didn't have to take on any private loans (all grant from Brown, Stafford sub and unsub, etc), I would say that it's worth it personally. My gf and I live together and she had about that much debt (although hers was almost entirely from the year of grad school at Brown), and she doesn't regret it at all even if it is somewhat of a burden.

    Based on your expected concentration, I doubt it would apply, but remember that using IBR your payments are lowered and if you work in certain public service sectors you can be forgiven after 10 years of all outstanding federal loans. Again, my gf is planning on doing this (since we both work in education policy) and it will cut her total payments in half.
  • fireandrainfireandrain Registered User Posts: 4,737 Senior Member
    Are your parents paying for your brother's education? After your freshman year, those payments will go away, so your parents can now devote that money to your education. In fact, if your brother is getting FA from USC, that amount should increase next year.

    While your personal EFC will increase, your parents' total contribution should stay the same. So, if your EFC is $10,000 and your brother's is $10,000, your parents will pay $20,000 next year for both of you. When your brother graduates, your EFC becomes $20,000, but your parents are still paying $20,000, but just for you now.

    In general, rule of thumb is that a reasonable amount of debt is the federal maximum, which is about $27,000 total for four years.

    ETA: have you talked to your parents about how much they are willing to pay/borrow?
  • cougar23cougar23 Registered User Posts: 160 Junior Member
    I should have mentioned that my parents pay/borrow $25,000 a year for our college educations. This comes out to $100,000~ and would cover Michigan's tuition entirely.

    Even when my brother graduates, my parents will still pay $25,000. Nothing more. So I could end up looking at $20,000 of debt per year for three years.
  • itsme2itsme2 Registered User Posts: 43 Junior Member
    i think it is ok with $60 debt for Brown's econ.
  • fireandrainfireandrain Registered User Posts: 4,737 Senior Member
    I think $60K is too high. And who is going to lend you this money? Will your parents cosign this loan? It sounds like your parents will already be $200,000 in debt between you and your brother's education.
  • cougar23cougar23 Registered User Posts: 160 Junior Member
    They cosign for us. They're already at $200,000 in debt because I've my other brother, but we've planned for that. My question is simply: How much debt would you take on?
  • fireandrainfireandrain Registered User Posts: 4,737 Senior Member
    No more than the federal maximum, unless you were majoring in computer science. Especially since your other choice is UMich, which is such a great school. And I say that as a booster for Brown.

    Here's one approach. Find a loan calculator online, and figure out what your monthly payments will be. Remember that the amount will be more than $20,000/year -- Brown's costs go up 2-4% each year, and there is interest due on the loan that will accrue each year. So your total amount owed at the end of four years could be more like $70,000.

    If you want to major in econ and you are interested in investment banking, approach this like an investment banker would. Figure out your monthly loan costs. Then figure out your monthly salary (and think on the low side), and calculate all of your expenses (housing, insurance, food, taxes, transportation, etc. --ask your parents about all of their bills). Look at all that hard data, and make your decision based on that.
  • BrownParentBrownParent Registered User Posts: 12,776 Senior Member
    I think it is too much to be saddled with. I was only willing to let my D go into debt 20,000 total for 4 years, because that was the instate offer and still a good school (Berk.) Go to UMich, it at least has the advantage of being the better college town.
  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
    Just to throw in my two cents- if your parents are borrowing $25,000 a yea, then you should not going to Brown. If your parents are contributing that from income + savings you has for college, youre in a different situation.
  • 110percentwahoo110percentwahoo Registered User Posts: 248 Junior Member
    Lot of smart people looking to make bad decisions lol. This shouldn't even be a question, pick UMich.
  • cougar23cougar23 Registered User Posts: 160 Junior Member
    ModestMelody - My parents have the money set aside. I would never make them borrow that kind of cash! Haha

    110percent - I know it seems cut-and-dry, but this is a tough decision. Brown has been my dream school for years. I never thought I could get in, and when I did I lost it. Michigan is great, but everyone from my high school goes there and I get an impersonal vibe. Not to mention the cut-throat atmosphere, impossible-to-get-into-business school, and general lack of undergraduate focus. Brown is simply a better undergraduate experience and education, IMO. Really tough call, especially with nine days until May 1!
  • BrownAlumParentBrownAlumParent Registered User Posts: 661 Member
    There is truly a Huge difference in "debt" vs money that has been planned for and set aside. As a potential business type student, of course you should realize this. Debt = eventually paying 200+ % with interest etc. Not to mention the burden on credit for future plans (grad school, owning a home etc.) If your parents have set a prudent example for you and this is allocated savings etc, and then with adding loans to that which are manageable, you can afford it, you should go to your "dream school" and go to Brown. The manageability of the debt depends on what you are doing in the future re earnings, whether you might enter a loan forgiveness program, or whether you anticipate further need (grad school etc.) If the parental plan is lots of loans now and they will be over their head, then Brown was an unreasonable option, and sorry you have to forgo that. (One curve ball in the loan equation is that some parents used paying up their mortgage as a way to "bank college funds" mistakenly thinking that would hide the assets from financial aid calculations, getting more aid and then taking a mortgage to pay the school. While remortgages are not as easy a way to get a cheap(er) loan these days, that I might not consider that as much in the equation if that was where they "socked away" the college fund. )
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