Students sitting in front of lockers

Beating the College Debt Trap: Getting a Degree Without Going Broke

Beating the College Debt TrapBeating the College Debt Trap: Getting a Degree Without Going Broke
by Alex Chediak
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015
$15.99 | 224 pp.

The subject of college debt is a critical issue for students and their parents in the consideration of college.  It is a common topic in the national conversation regarding the cost of a college education.  Dr. Alex Chediak, a professor of engineering and physics at California Baptist University has written a book that, I believe, should be read by all students and parents prior to making decisions about college.  He has provided a very accessible book that provides the reader with valuable information and wise counsel regarding choosing a major, student loans, working while a student, budgeting, and finding a job after graduation.

Chediak proposes eight takeaways from his book:

  1. A bachelor’s degree is one of several options that can lead to a rewarding career.
  1. Being an informed customer is the best way to avoid spending a fortune on your education.
  1. When considering colleges, stick with a budget—the way you would when shopping for anything else.
  1. The phrase “financial aid” is nebulous. It can refer to grants (need-based gifts), scholarships (merit-based; you must work to maintain), work-study (a job that pays hourly), or loans (which you have to repay with interest).
  1. Choose a major that’s consistent with you interests and talents, but be mindful of your earnings prospects, particularly if you take out loans.
  1. It is possible to earn most of the money you’ll need for college while you are in college.
  1. Start looking for a full-time job in advance of graduation.
  1. Watch your housing and food expenses after you graduate. Free up enough cash to make your student loan payments on time.

I believe Chediak’s explanation of the types of government and private loans is extremely helpful for students and their parents as they try to assess the financial aid package they’ve received from a college.  One of the assertions that Chediak made which I thought was absolutely vital was that a student should know at the acceptance of every loan what the aggregate monthly payment will be when the loan has to be repaid.  I think he correctly maintains that many students accept the loan without truly considering the implications for their budget upon graduation.

The book starts with a sense that it is written for a general audience but when the author cites Dave Ramsey and Scripture it becomes clear that he is giving his counsel from a Christian, biblical framework.  He does a very credible job of advising Christian students and parents.  I commend it to you without reservation.


For high school seniors who are confident they would like to pursue vocational ministry, Western Seminary and Corban University have partnered to offer a five year accelerated B.A. in Ministry and Master of Divinity. By combining the two programs and reducing overall program length by two years, students will save an estimated $30,000 in tuition and living expenses. “This new program is a great opportunity for young men and women who believe God wants them to be in church pastoral ministry to get high-quality training in a streamlined fashion,” says Dr. Ron Marrs, Kairos Program Director. This innovative program addresses a growing concern about the indebtedness many pastors incur as they complete the necessary training for a successful transition into ministry.


About Ron Marrs

Ron Marrs is presently a Professor of Youth and Pastoral Ministry and Chairman of the Center for Ministry and Leadership at Western Seminary, Portland, OR. Ron is the leader of the Portland Youth Workers Network. He served at Westwood Baptist Church, a Converge church, for 24.5 years primarily as the youth pastor and then as executive/worship pastor. He has been married to Becky for 35 years, has three children and three grandsons. He is an elder at Hinson Baptist Church. He recently completed doctoral research in which he interviewed 26 people about their rookie youth pastor experiences along with 24 of their supervisors.