How to avoid massive student loan debt AND get a great college education? Choose your Local Technical College

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Everyone has heard the new figures on student loan debt, and they are mind-boggling. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, student loan debt in the United States has now surpassed $1 trillion—that’s more than the total owed by Americans on their credit cards or auto loans. Total student debt is more than five times what it was a dozen years ago.

There are some 37 million people in the U.S. currently holding student debt, with the national average among undergraduate student borrowers carrying a debt load of about $25,000. As a recent study by NERA Economic Consulting noted, “Student debt loads of $50,000, $100,000, and $200,000 are still the minority, but those high figures are becoming more common.”

What steps can you take to avoid this type of unmanageable debt, while still reaching your educational goals? While no one can single-handedly control the economy, being knowledgeable about trends in the college education market could be one of the best first steps in making some very important decisions about your future.

Choosing a college is a big decision. Now more than ever, attending your local technical college may not only be the best choice, but one of the smartest ones you can make. This valuable local resource not only offers top-notch educational opportunities—it may allow you to complete your chosen field of study on a more sound financial footing.

As a prospective student, you want to find the right “fit”, somewhere that will challenge you while providing the guidance you need to reach your goals—whether that means earning your degree, fine-tuning your skill-set, or beginning a new career.

While costs at all two- and four-year colleges and universities are rising, tuition and fees at technical colleges averaged only 36.2 percent of the average four-year public college tuition and fee bill during a recent academic year, according to the College Board. For the 2010-11 school year, tuition and fees at technical colleges averaged $2,713, compared to $7,605 for in-state costs at a four-year public university, and $27,293 at a private four-year institution.

And, in the bargain, the advantages to a technical college education go beyond this. These benefits include small class sizes and a teaching staff committed to providing individualized attention, along with more night, weekend and online classes for the flexibility to fit your busy schedule.

Taking all these factors into account, the decision to attend Florence-Darlington Technical College might not just be the best choice for your educational future, but a very smart one at that.

—By Kathryn Barnes

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