How much student loan debt can you bench? or why the workout is worth the payoff.

During my group strength training workout this morning, I was talking to a work colleague who happens to be in the same class about Augustana’s financial assistance brochure.

I commented that we were struggling with a way to represent the support and consideration and professionalism of our financial aid staff coupled with the right mix of information in a 3 color brochure.

I also want the brochure to help families wend where to get azithromycin their way through the financial aid fears: Can we afford the school our daughter wants? Is this investment worth it? Will our son get a job in four years to pay for his student loans?

Another woman in our class said that her biggest fear for her daughter (who is 14 or 15) is that her daughter will turn out like her…she clarified that she (the mom) has a lot of loan debt and won’t have it paid off until she is

52. I did not get into detail about how much of this is graduate school debt (though I know her to be a chiropractor so some is that) vs undergrad vs for-profit college (from which I believe she has some certificate/s) debt. But I did ask her if it was worth it.  She replied with a vehement “No!”

To me, this is heartbreaking. Each month I paid my student loan bill I was comforted by the knowledge that Augie was the best educational decision I had made and every dime I paid was worth it. When others don’t feel the same I imagine two things have happened:
1. The work they pursued at school does not apply to their current life and/or career.
2. They were not given appropriate guidance and/or advice or made a poor decision in terms of a college as a good financial fit.

I fear we may have a generation of parents influencing their own students to make college decisions based only on money – because of their own fear of debilitating debt – and, because of this we will end up with a generation of uneducated, unemployable adults. Not that the jobs aren’t available – people just aren’t educated enough to land them.

I read this today at

The Brookings Institution found that a mismatch in supply and demand for educated workers boosts unemployment in the U.S. and adds as much as 2 percentage points to the jobless rates in some cities, Bloomberg reported.

Cities with larger gaps in education levels between workers and available positions have lower rates of job creation and new openings. Washington, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., have the most demand for college graduates, the report found.

I fall back on advice I can say all day every day long.

1. Find a great fit for a college – do the research early to find a great place that will help you foster and highlight your strengths and help you search for your vocation.

2. Strongly consider the liberal arts. There is little I do at work that is directly connected to a specific class – but rather I use skills developed in all of my classes. The ability to read, write, speak, analyze, communicate, create…I have so many options because of these “soft” skills. It’s part of the reason I’m not sorry to pay my student loans.

Our workout ended

and, honestly, I avoided further discussion as I’m not sure I have much hope to offer this woman.  I do have great hope for the families we work with at Augustana; however, as I trust our financial aid team to truly counsel families through their college choice and I know a decision to gain a degree from this great liberal arts institution is going to pay dividends for years to come – for each of our graduates.

Want a financial assistance brochure??  I’d be interested to hear if you think we accomplished my goals of easing some of the fears of financial assistance.  Email me at



About meghancooley

Meghan Cooley has worked in admissions for over 15 years. She's served in a variety of roles, ranging from tour guide to admissions counselor to her most recent position as Director of Admissions and Recruitment. Through many admissions cycles - she's experienced the ebb and flow of the higher education landscape in the Midwest, become an expert on family dynamics within the college search, guided many through the details of the college search and witnessed the joy and disappointment of student college decisions.

Now, as the Director of Recruitment Communication and Manager of social media at Augustana College, Meghan and her team of talented students focus on marketing Augustana to prospective families, educating families about the college search process, and enhancing professional development opportunities in the profession. She is passionate about increasing diversity (socio-economic and ethnic) in private higher education, alleviating the fears and frustrations that often come with a college search (especially in first generation families), and above all, helping students find the best fit for them as they explore all the educational opportunities available.

Meghan often invites guest bloggers mostly including Augustana admissions staff and current students to contribute. The talented students and staff offer a perspective in the trenches of the college search and college experience.

A 1999 graduate of Augustana College, Meghan holds Bachelor's Degrees in English and Spanish. An avid international traveler, she recommends hiking the Inca Trail to Manchu Picchu in Peru, eating Gelato in Rome, Italy, and seeing an opera at the Volksoper in Vienna, Austria. She is married to Augustana graduate and Modern Woodmen project manager, Luke Cooley. They have three sons, Charles, Oliver and Bennett.

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