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Cost of Continuing Education

Debt, Learning, and Future Earning

How to handle the cost of continuing your education.

Some people decide to get another college degree later in life. That typically means taking on student debt, and dealing with that debt after 40 takes planning.

Between 2005 and 2015, the number of Americans older than 60 carrying outstanding student loans quadrupled. How can you plan ahead to avoid joining their ranks?

Try saving more than you will borrow. Start putting aside money for your education 2–3 years in advance. Or hold off enrolling for two to three years until you have more money saved.

Choose federal loans over private loans. Interest rates on federal loans are fixed, and their repayment terms offer some flexibility. Deferments or forbearances may even be granted in cases of hardship. If you do take out a private loan, strong credit score could help you refinance it in the future. Ideally, refinancing does not leave the loan with a variable interest rate.

Stick to public colleges and universities. If you are considering a private school, ask yourself whether the prestige is worth the cost. You could potentially assume more debt than you would by attending a public institution.