Too many Millennials carry staggering amounts of student loan debt. It keeps them up at night and leaves them to live in a state of constant low-grade anxiety.
The mountains of student loan debt are linked to depression, anxiety, and other disturbing mental health issues like panic disorders. High blood pressure, poor eating habits, and headaches have also been attributed to carrying excessive debt in young adulthood.
For those who carry six figures in student loan debt, things like purchasing a house or starting a family must be put on hold - sometimes indefinitely. For millions of Americans, student loan debt is as debilitating and limiting as generational poverty.
In the last decade, tuition costs have increased by a whopping 55% for a public college education, and 44% at private institutions. This increase is a real national concern, leaving some Americans questioning whether a college degree is still a sound investment.
Still, no one can deny the net present value of a college degree today. Understandably, the ROI from a less expensive public college beats a pricier private college at the 10-year horizon. However, those who graduate from pricier private colleges tend to come out ahead in the long-term.
So is a private college over a state school the right choice? Will a liberal arts degree net a decent ROI? And if so, how much money is appropriate to borrow for non-STEM studies?
One thing is sure - the decision to invest in higher education has never been more complicated! Fortunately, The College Investor provides information and all the resources needed for those seeking answers.
Founded in 2009 by Robert Farrington, the website dives deep into the subjects of student loans, personal finance, and investing. A self-described finance nerd obsessed with growing money from a very young age, Robert is on a mission to help others get out of debt and invest intelligently.
Each month, Robert receives hundreds of thousands of unique views from readers eager to find information on available scholarships, how to get student loan forgiveness, excellent side hustle ideas, and tons of information on saving and investing.
Here is my interview with Robert Farrington - I hope you all enjoy it!
As the founder of The College Investor, you have over half a million unique visitors to your site each month, not to mention around a 10% growth in traffic. There is steep competition in the personal finance niche - so what is the one thing you attribute to your almost otherworldly success?
A big part of our success comes from consistency over time. We've been doing this for over 10 years, publishing content every day. We started at 3x per week, and have never dropped below that. With consistency and time comes practice and experience. I've had so many "at bats" that we're lucky in some ways and have gained experience in others. By doing the work and practicing, we're better at understanding what content may succeed and how to help our readers.
The College Investor is just over a decade old. Can you elaborate on your climb from working as a retail manager to creating one of the most recognized and utilized online personal finance resources?
Personal finance was always a passion of mine - really earning money and then finding ways to have that money grow. Combine that with the fact that I've also been interested in computers and tech, and starting a blog was a natural fit. I'd been reading other personal finance websites, and figured - "hey, I can start my own too." So I did just that - started The College Investor as a side hustle and continued creating content while working full time.
The content creation at The College Investor is always premium, and the posts are published consistently throughout the month. Could you share which apps you use for things like time management and the timely rollout of all that content?
It's essential to stay organized and on time. We layout our content calendar in Asana, and plan content about 2 months in advance. That way, all the details of the content - writing, social media, audio, video - can be created prior to the content going live. A little planning goes a long way to being consistent.
We live in tumultuous and unpredictable times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Americans face record-high unemployment, and with many businesses yet to re-open, new hires are in indefinite holding patterns. What should the millions of unemployed or underemployed Millennials do differently in the face of an ever-changing employment landscape?
First, you need to ensure you're organized with your own money. Do a quick check of your budget, income, and expenses, see what you need, what you have, and where you need to go. This is huge - sadly, the vast majority of people who write in with struggles aren't organized to even say how much they are short each month, where they can cut, etc.Second, take advantage of the programs that may be available to you - unemployment, maybe student loan relief, and more. There are more programs being proposed all the time, so it's also important to stay current on the news about what's happening in Washington. Finally, consider supplementing your income. Maybe you have something to sell, maybe you can earn on the side by delivering food or groceries. There are infinite ways to earn, and even a little bit of extra money can help.
Wealth growth seems to come naturally to you, but money management is difficult for many Americans, and wealth growth seems unachievable, especially in the current situation. What are three concrete steps everyone can take today to feel more financially secure in 2020?
Get organized. You can't even start to figure out where to go if you're not organized with your money. This means tracking income and expenses, then making decisions based on your own goals and values. Maybe you can cut subscription services, etc, but you need to eat out twice a month. I'm not here to tell you what you value - I'm just saying that you need to get organized and then decide on what matters today AND the future.With that - building wealth is all about taking the difference between your income and expenses - and then putting that money to work for you. Invest it, make it grow. Sadly, too many people live in a payment mentality. Where, if they can afford the monthly payments, they're fine. But that doesn't build wealth. That just keeps you poor. Yes, you might have "things", but you're never going to be secure until you have wealth. And that means escaping the payment mindset.
Millennials are jumping into investing in droves during this economic downturn. Can you suggest a reliable investment app for beginning investors?
Honestly, the best places to invest are known, reliable brokerage firms like Vanguard, Fidelity, and Schwab. They all have great mobile apps, and commission-free trading and they are backed by decades of experience. Why use something else that isn't proven - or even worse, has a proven record of issues. See our guide here: Invest for Free
There is not a business on this planet untouched by COVID-19. What impact has the global pandemic had on The College Investor?
A big change for us has been changing consumer priorities. Things like taxes and student loans have become less important due to changing deadlines and pauses. But other content, like stimulus checks or unemployment, has become incredibly necessarily. We had to rapidly shift our content to make sure we were providing relevant topics to those who needed it.
Stories of compassion and generosity abound in the news ever since the virus swept across the country. What have you personally experienced or witnessed in the way of hopeful change since the start of the global pandemic?
I'm hopeful for higher education and student loan reform as a result of everything going on. With colleges moving to online classes, universities are really going to have to prove their value. And I hope students and parents speak with their pocketbooks on what really matters. With technology rapidly evolving, I think there is huge potential to disrupt higher education to make it more affordable and relevant to students today.