Forty percent said they had “no idea” how much they would pay for monthly tuition, suggesting that “students and their families are not using the tools and resources available to them to calculate and understand … financial implications for them in terms of financing a college education.”

Maya Frost, author of The Global Student, a book advocating for students to seek a quality, inexpensive education, said college applicants often make the mistake of choosing a campus based on a reputation that might catch the eye of an employer after graduation.

“[Students should] use the tools available to gain a clearer understanding of the true costs, and never assume that a higher price tag will guarantee a higher salary,” Frost said. “Too many students shoot for out-of-price-range schools with the idea that the loans will make it magically affordable.”

A well-known university’s name on a resume might curry the favor of some employers, Frost said, but by attending pricey institutions, students run the risk of facing a high student loan bills without a job directly after college–a common predicament in the country’s down economy.

“Most employers are looking for real skills, raw talent, persistence, and a lack of that dreaded sense of entitlement,” she said. “We tend to equate high price with exceptional value even when we know that a product or service might not live up to its hype, and the same is true in higher education. … It often backfires, leaving students in a mountain of debt–and without that plum job to pay it off.”


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