The amount of student loan debt is skyrocketing, with $1 trillion not an unreasonable collective figure. And with 40 million students owing money on their student loans, a figure greater than the population Canada and four times the population of Sweden, student loan debt is an epidemic, not an exception. However, there are still good reasons to go back to college, even if you owe money from the first time you went.
1. You're Obtaining a Highly Employable Degree
Whatever your reason is for having gone to college before and amassing a sizeable student loan, going back to get a "hard" major is worth piling on more debt. Be careful about what you choose, though: a degree in something like art history doesn't have nearly the same return on investment as a degree in physics or engineering. With the former, you'll have a hard time securing a well-paying job right after graduation, and a much easier time with the latter.
2. Your Degree will be Profitable in the Very Near Future
This list of by The Atlantic, one of many like it around, highlights some of the best-paying jobs in the next 10 years, and majoring in something that'll lead to one of them is another good reason to head back to college. It may seem as though piling on more student debt for a "fad" job isn't a good idea, but it is for two reasons: your chances of becoming comfortably employed after graduation are good, and if your job goes out of season, you'll have enough work experience to move laterally into another comfortable position.
3. You're a Rootless Urbanite with No Desire to Settle Down
For many, the dream of owning a house and two cars while starting a family is something they strive towards. For others, that's about as far down the list as one can get and other things, like renting an apartment in the downtown core of a vibrant city is tops. If you have no roots preventing you from coming and going as you please and you favor an active lifestyle over being tied down, then going back to college may not be a bad idea. However, examine your reasons for going back to college and make sure it's for something worthwhile (as opposed to going to avoid paying back your student loan).
4. You Haven't Defaulted on Your Loan
If you've defaulted on your loan, you can't go back to college, full stop. You need to take care of the default first by calling the U.S. Department of Education's Debt Collection Service Information Centre and put your loans back in good standing. Once you do that and can prove you'll be able to pay back your loans, you may even be able to secure a new loan for your return trip back to college.
5. Your Employer is Paying for Your College
If this option applies to you, congratulations. You've hit pay dirt in terms of college education, as you have an employer whose salary allows you to pay off your existing student loan as well as funding your new one. Not every employer will kick back money toward your college education, but companies like Google, Starbucks and the rest on this list are among the more generous.