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College, Costs and “Due Diligence”

Debt, which just so happens to be a “four-letter-word,” is a frequent topic of discussion in higher education literature. One recent study identified that analysis of millions of federal loan student records shows that student loan defaults, in the last 10 years, are at an all-time high. Still college degrees continue to be much sought after and student loan borrowers are finding ways to pay-off their loans.

Who are these federal student loan borrowers who are in default? Where are they going to college? Why are they borrowing so much and not able to pay down their student loan debt? All great questions and there are even more questions. Certainly it’s true that with the increased amount of college options, especially the expanding numbers of for-profit higher educational offerings, the options for taking college credit courses has become amazingly accessible. One can take college courses online in a college program that allows for quick turn-around time in application, registration and matriculation. But, at what cost?

The old phrase “buyer beware,” from the Latin, caveat emptor, is an important one to remember because the one with the name on the loan is the one who is responsible. What to do?

Do your own due diligence. Research a variety of higher education options. Take the time to investigate how long the college has existed, how many of the admitted students actually complete a college degree, and see if there is specific information related to degrees granted and gainful employment. Call the colleges Alumni Office and Career Center because they should also have answers to your important questions. I welcome your calling me with your questions as would many of my fellow college administrators from the SW Riverside County area. Let your own research work for you!

Written by Vickie Becker, EdD

Vickie Becker, EdD, is the Executive Director for the Azusa Pacific University Murrieta Regional Center. She may be reached at 951.304.3400 or

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