SPOTLIGHT

Major Choices: Online tool helps Texas students decide how future careers affect loan repayment


How much should a student borrow to finance a degree? Given a particular career path, what loan repayment amount will be affordable? For students and families navigating the world of higher education and financial aid, borrowing decisions naturally raise these kinds of questions and concerns.

While college graduates typically earn more than high school graduates, not all college graduates earn the same. Students often want to pursue their "dream job" and may struggle with finding the right balance between following their hearts into lesser paying careers on the one hand, and building a stable financial future on the other. For counselors and other student-services professionals, it may be easier to show, rather than explain, how a student's college major may affect his or her ability to repay student loans.

To help with this task, TG is pleased to give you Major Choices, an online calculator that students can use to get an estimate of median debt-to-income ratios for particular majors at many public colleges and for-profit institutions within Texas. This ratio can help them estimate the amount of their first year earnings that will go toward student loan payments.

The calculator can be viewed from desktops and many types of mobile devices; provides pop-up help in understanding postsecondary education terminology; and includes links to essential details specific to a student's needs, such as:

  • Dynamic scholarship search specific to a chosen major
  • Institutional net price calculators
  • Money management tips and student loan repayment  options

The calculator was created as a companion tool to the TG publication Balancing Passion and Practicality: The Role of Debt and Major on Students' Financial Outcomes,released last year. The report focused attention on the need to help students understand potential consequences to future income or successful loan repayment based on their decisions of college major and career.

As a guidance tool, the calculator allows students the opportunity to compare different majors at the same school or the same major at different schools. With more than 400 majors listed, students can see how their decisions about college may affect their ability to repay student loans based on potential first-year income during the first year after graduation.

It's never too soon for students to think about how they will repay their debts, given their likely salaries. You can now arm them with this knowledge, and students can make financial and academic decisions that allow them to pursue their passions without ignoring financial realities.

Students and parents can find the online calculator and other college planning resources at www.AIE.org/MajorChoices.