Conversation: Howard Dayton
Howard Dayton is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries and host of the nationally syndicated radio program Money Matters.
His new book, Free and Clear: GodÕs Road Map to Debt-Free Living, has advice for young people on how to avoid financial bondage. Dayton recently spoke with News Editor John W. Kennedy about how to pay for college.
tpe: Do student loans need to be a way of life?
DAYTON: Unfortunately, itÕs become that for so many people. The average undergraduate now finishes college with $19,000 in school debt; the average for graduate students is $39,000. It doesnÕt have to be that way.
From an early age, parents need to have a family conference where they tell their kids they will do what they can to help them get an education. But the children also need to work part-time and summers to save up money for their education.
Around $4 billion in scholarships and grants went unused last year. If kids and parents do their homework, they can find that money. It can make a big difference.
tpe: Tell me more about available money that goes unused.
DAYTON: A good place to start is the college admissions office to find out what is available. If the person is going into ministry, often denominational grants or scholarships are available. Sometimes local churches will help support a person going into ministry. A Web site we recommend is scholarshipcoach.com, which has some great advice on the pursuit of grants and scholarships.
tpe: How can taking on $19,000 — or $39,000 — in debt derail a new graduate?
DAYTON: We receive calls every day from people who are saddled with school debt. Often they are unable to pursue the career they believe God wants them to pursue, which might be ministry or missions, because they have to earn enough to service the debt. Debt causes some to postpone marriage and delay having children.
tpe: Besides pursuing grants and scholarships plus working as much as possible, what are other practical ways students can decrease their education costs?
DAYTON: Save as much as possible to diminish the need for loans. While living at home, kids need to be taught by their parents how to use a spending plan so they can be wise with their own resources. The average cost of living for a student off campus in a rental home where you buy your own food is $5,000 more than living in a dorm and eating cafeteria food. If a student does that for four years it amounts to $20,000.
tpe: You mentioned students shouldnÕt expect their parents to foot the bill for their college education.
DAYTON: With todayÕs costs itÕs mighty difficult for parents to handle. ItÕs something the kids have to take responsibility for today.
tpe: Do Christian families often make the mistake of leaving God out of the equation of providing for college?
DAYTON: Absolutely. My recommendation is for the family to set aside one time each week to get together to pray specifically for the Lord to provide resources for the children to go to college without the need to use debt. If people do that it can be a wonderful experience to see how God provides.
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