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Dr. Ben Carson on Student Loans, Work and Debt

I had the honor of sitting down with presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson to talk about a topic important to both of us—student loans. Remember, it IS possible to go to college debt free!


  • Debra Stephan

    As always, Dr. Carson speaks truth and wisdom. Thank you, Rachel, for this interview and stressing the importance of not taking on loans. You both get my vote for a job very well done!

  • David W.

    Great interview! With the cost of college right now, if you don’t have adequate income or savings, work alone (with the kinds of jobs you can get without the degree) isn’t going to pay for college. Do you have any additional suggestions how to get to and through college financially?

    • I worked a full-time job the entire time I went to college. I would only carry 9-12 credits per semester so it took a couple of extra years to complete but, I came out with very little debt.

  • SkipperD

    Great interview! Lots of wisdom there. Community colleges are a great bargain. There is no problem with going to school and working at the same time. It can also be beneficial to take a semester off and work more, then return to school. It takes longer to finish school, but graduating debt free is worth the time. I think it is also very important to interview people who are employed in your field of study. If you find that there are few jobs, you might consider changing your degree objective. There is lots of data available on the job market. Do your homework and don’t wind up paying for a worthless piece of paper. Don’t believe what college recruiters tell you, they are paid bonuses for signing you up and signing you up for loans. Student loans are the equivalent of a mortgage with no house.

  • Dewayne Neeley

    Great interview. I would love to see a transcript of his comments, if possible.

  • sally

    i’m late to the DR debt free party. will be 300k in debt after completing doctorate in 4 years. working part time and very few that graduate from my program make less than 100k per year. what to do next. feel strongly that god asked me to do this and that he would provide, which he has- in powerful ways. but i’m hearing your program almost condemn this way of living. makes me feel sad because of how hard i’m working and how much I love your ministry. thoughts?

    • The first thing I researched before choosing my engineering degree was the return that I would get on my investment. So many people do not do that. If you spend 3-4 times the cost of a BS degree and only make $20K more/yr over your lifetime than someone with a BS degree then it is probably not a very good investment. But that’s just me.

  • Ivette

    When do a student start applying for scholarships? How soon? I have a 16 year old Junior in HS. Thank you

    • Amy

      There are scholarships available at any age. They are easier to find the older they get until their senior year. However there are also scholarships available to apply for even after entering college. I can’t remember the app, but there is a scholarship app that can help you locate scholarships you are eligible for.

    • Maggie

      Now. I wouldn’t wait any later than junior year to be applying for college and scholarships. The college websites should have a list of scholarships as a start.

  • Alayna Rastogi

    As always, dr. Carson needs to go back to the or. What a freaking asshole.

    • Daniel

      I think we all can see who the real one is here

  • Vickie Smith

    This is what we preach to our kids and it’s working. Name calling is just that…. lame. My first has graduated debt free, 2nd payed off her loan within a year, two more in attendance and not using loans….. almost halfway there! I’ll liking 90% of all I hear about Ben Carson.Rachel where did you get that cute purple dress…. my DD’s wedding color…

    • Becky Hansen Carlin

      Not all are born with the gifts your children enjoy. Those people that everyone says should be educating themselves are trying. They often start with nothing and little or no support.nIf we really want them to be successful, we need to provide a way.

  • Jake Adams

    LOVED the interview and i love Dr. Ben Carson, but please stop changing camera angles every 5 seconds!

  • Victoria Stewart

    Great interview and very insightful comments by Dr. Carson. I only have a $15,000 loan and I am struggling. I can’t imagine how the 4 year loans are going for graduates.

    • Frankie Leon Edging

      Not good, 130k between my wife and myself. Wife defaulted, mine have been deferred but payments scheduled to start in just a few months. ..not sure how I’ll pay the $700/month payment for my portion, even with a good job working 60 to 100 hours week, making almost 100k, I never envisioned cost of living going up so high or paying 20k/year for family health care. 34k deductions last year from wages and doesn’t account for the 300 month I pay for my wife’s on the private market just to save 130/month compared to employer plan. It’s all a sham, there is no hope for those of us buried under student loan debt. I am making what I expected, but the cost of living has soared to a crushing pressure. And our president has only made it all worse. And the market we live in is full of over priced housing. Paying 1500 month rent and all the bills plus I pay 600 month child support. Courts don’t care about expenses or debt. Sinking fast with no light at the end of the tunnel.

      • Becky Hansen Carlin

        Im with you

      • Jonathan D. Jordan

        Frankie, dont blame the President for “making it worse”, blame the man in the mirror. We must take responsibility for our actions. I pay 800 dollars in child support, I blame myself for that. Dave Ramsey, and I quote says “don’t blame the president or anyone else, blame the person in the mirror.” Please try Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, it will change your life FOREVER! Also enroll in his Financial Peace University…I hope this helps…God Bless you and your family!!

      • Cynthia

        I have a daughter owing 100,000 for a chemistry degree. I cannot believe the Universities and Colleges were allowed to scam young people. What really makes me mad is the private loans we were told we had to sign as Parent’s, or the students could not attend school there( my daughter was going into here junior year) and would need to enroll somewhere else. Not one person ever told us in 2008 our daughter would be in debt for decades and has to live at home because of the apartments aren’t in her budget. She drives the same used( 28 yr old) car she got when she was 18! My daughter is out of work right now. She has been looking for work in the entertainment business as an admin asst, publicity, personal assistant or in human resources. She had started working in in the entertainment business because a family friend hired her (temp) so now she has gotten work experience. She worked at Abercrombie and Fitch as a manager through colIege, not wanting to work in retail her entire life but it helped pay for books, and some tuition.nI feel so incredibly guilty for my daughter’s debt problems. The only debt she has is student loans. No home or apartment, no running car, no store credit cards. She is so stressed from the student loans she wouldn’t take a credit card with zero interest. All I could think about was for her to get her degree and she would do better. The starting wage in her field was 15.00/hr with lab experience and since she had no experience right out of school, nobody would hire her after she graduated. Her life has forever changed. She is desperately looking for full time work. She is smart, beautiful, kind, and a very hard worker. I had no idea after two years the tuition would skyrocket! I never meant to do this to my first born. I try to keep her positive but her money she has saved to buy herself a new, ” used” car is dwindling due to her 1100.00 / month student loan payment. She had 16,000 saved working as much as she could. Her car has 300k miles on it. It was made before she was born. I apologize for the lengthy response. I had to tell someone, the stress is so hard on the whole family. We co-signed the loans too. So if anything happened to her we would have to pay the 100k. She is 26 and she should be happy but this debt has dictated everything in her life. She had wanted to get her master’s but now she would never. She is a very personable, positive, upbeat young lady. We just have to remind her of that. She doesn’t even try to get into a relationship, she thinks that kind of debt would scare any guy away. Take Care

        • Frankie Leon Edging

          That’s very unfortunate, sorry to hear about hers and your situation. I was fortunate that I found a job in my field before my degree was completed, and because I was so eager to learn I have quickly climbed the ladder to the point that I cant make anymore income unless I work extra hours and work faster, other than that I’d have to change to a different career. Originally I started college to become an industrial engineer, however the economy fell through and all the manufacturing left the country, so the college cancelled the entire career pathway, so I was left with a bunch of worthless classes and debt and had to choose something else and start over. I make good money but like anyone would like to make more. I believe if a college cancels a program mid way, then they should have to refund any cost’s of attendance, books, and supplies that the student incurred in the canceled program. Due to that I ran out of financial aid for the new pathway and had to borrow all of my cost of college. I was not allowed to work at the time due to a physical disability that cause massive health problems, so there was no opportunity to work to supplement the loans. Fortunately my health problems were caught and began improving so I was lucky that I was able to go back to work toward the end of my degree and then I only took 2 classes per year to get from my associates to my bachelors. So my bachelor degree required a total of 9 years to complete. Its very frustrating but working 60-80 hours per week at the time while having children to care for makes it even tougher. Thank God I finally made it last year though I’ve been in the work field since 2005..but listening to some of the people on here making it sound like its all our fault for poor choices and this and that just adds salt to an open wound. I was having such a rough start to adulthood, that college was the only means I could see that offered light at the end of the tunnel. I would have loved to get a degree debt free, but not everyone has parents that can pay or help, and not everyone gets a silver platter with life planned out. I have worked my ass off to get where I am. The ignorant comments certainly don’t solve anything for those of us who just need to vent our frustrations and were given a place to do so.

        • Frankie Leon Edging

          Cynthia, look me up on facebook and perhaps I have someone in my network that could help your daughter with leads.

  • Floyd Brown

    Actually he is too smart to be president.. He would never get through to the liberal butt heads in this country.. Liberals can only think about what is free and who can do it for me.. Work, no liberal will ever go for work… Hell, they are entitled.. Forward thinking and planning is totally above any liberal tards head.. No way will they ever understand this man..

    • Becky Hansen Carlin

      I’m not sure people want things free. What people want is to know they can pay for it. With the cost of housing and nearly everything else rising so quickly, it leaves little room to hope for an education. It leaves little room to hope.

  • Roberta Smaligo D’Achille

    Great interview, thanks for sharing!!

  • YvonneH

    It IS possible to go to college and graduate with no or little debt. My daughter graduated from ASU in 2014 with no student loan debt by working nearly full time at a company with tuition reimbursement. My son graduated from a private college in 2015 with very little debt through scholarships and working. Both were lucky to land great jobs. Most of the people I see who took out tons of loans also got worthless degrees where they will have trouble getting a decent paying job. If you have to take out loans, at least get a degree that is marketable! My son graduated with a computer science degree and had 3 (great paying) job offers within one week of graduating.

    • Becky Hansen Carlin

      In our area, even having a job that pays the expenses is not often the norm. Then you have to take out loans. If you quit, you are paying on those loans and you still have inequitable pay. You take out more loans to stay on top of other debt rising.nLets not forget that some people are just not successful without enough study time. Your children are definately blessed, it sounds. What one can accomplish does not equal what another can.nI know people who have had to choose between quitting classes because loans (even when working enough to make them ill) werent enough, or going homeless because they couldn’t find safe, affordable housing within a 50 mile radius.nCertainly, we cannot stand in our own shoes and give a statement for all.n

      • Frankie Leon Edging

        Your absolutely right. I moved 1600 miles to get a decent paint job and found the cost of living is crazy expensive. Couldn’t afford the apartment anymore, now I have my wife and 2 children living in a 5th wheel camper just to make ends meet.

    • Amanda Lindsey Law

      I implore you to have a broader mindset on this issue. I worked full time as a full time student and had multiple internships while in undergrad. I had to pay for my own health insurance, pay for my own room and board and got a degree in Communications (and am a successful event planner with a large company). Despite working this hard and receiving multiple scholarships, I incurred $21,000 in student loan debt. My husband is a lawyer with $150,000 in student loans (one of which is private, started at $27,000 and after making double payments for two years, we owed $33,000 – this doesn’t even make sense!). Please don’t assume that only individuals with “worthless degrees” are the ones drowning in student debt. We have zero credit card debt, I drive a car with 200,000+ miles on it to avoid payments, we make our food at home and are frugal shoppers. We are hard working Americans who wanted the “American Dream” and we find ourselves in our mid-30s struggling to make ends meet, working full time with side jobs. I applaud your children on their success I simply ask that you not be so judgmental of those that did not have the same fortune.

  • Greg Swensen

    No political correctness there. Demonizing others does help anyone, but attracts Dumb Americans for the vote. Don’t be a dumb American and take Carson’s advice.

  • Mike Elliott

    Dr. Carson starts with an incorrect implication that schools are accepting everyone just for the loans and goes from there. The interest is high as he correctly points out, but is apparently unaware that congress, not the schools, set the rates. There are other incorrect assertions and thus the assumptions and solutions do not have merit. His own education was paid for with Pell Grants which he would like to eliminate. Debt and college costs are a serious, complicated issue, not a two minute interview with solutions that fits on a cereal box. I’m disappointed that Dave Ramsey would post such claptrap.

  • Scott Hallauer

    what is a good website to go to for scholarships? My daughter wants to go to school next year to be a Lutheran Elementary School teacher and I would love to help her find some good scholarships to help her pay for that.

  • TBP100

    There are things people can do, and the lucky, highly gifted, few may get a full ride, but the simple fact is that the cost of college, in constant dollars, has gone up WAY more than the average inflation index, due in large part to decreased state funding (exploding numbers of administrators is another). Most people are caught in a very difficult bind, especially as businesses now are routinely asking for college degrees for jobs that never required one before.nnThis is short-sided in the extreme. While it’s not the only factor, of course, the very low cost of college post WWII, even up through the 70s, when I went to college (in-state tuition free or close to it in many states, generally affordable in all of them) contributed mightily to the prosperity of that period, and weighing people down with unpayable debt is a huge drag on the economy. People who are shelling out hundreds of dollars for student loans every month for years, even decades on end, aren’t buying houses or cars with that money, aren’t eating in local restaurants, or patronizing other local businesses as much as they could otherwise. While I have no problem with having students have some kind of “skin in the game,” via (affordable) fees and/or work study, college should be regarded as simply something we do collectively for each other, like K-12 education, police and fire protection, public parks, public libraries, roads and other infrastructure, and any number of other things most efficiently provided through government action.nnIn Carson’s case, he wants to eliminate the very programs that he and his family depended on, not just for his highly specialized, extremely expensive education, but for basic sustenance itself (public housing, food stamps, medicaid). Without these he would never have had the opportunity to develop his considerable talents, but now he wants to deny that aid to the next gifted and ambitious, but poor, kid who comes along. It’s a classic case of someone willing to pull up the ladder he climbed himself. As much as I admire him in many ways, this hypocrisy is despicable.nn

  • Jonathan D. Jordan

    Are you tired of living paycheck to paycheck, are you in debt, is your marriage hanging on a thread? I implore you to try Financial Peace University and read the book The Total Money Make Over!!!!

  • Jenny Morgan Post

    To pay for annual tuition with a minimum wage job in 1970 you would have to work 4.8 hours a day. To pay for annual tuition in 2014 with a minimum wage job you would have to work 17 hours a day. … Just work your way through college?? Yeah, right.

    • Chelsea

      Jenny, I completely understand where you are coming from, and there is no doubt costs have gone through the roof! But everyone doesn’t have to attend Yale or a school that is that expensive. Rachel does a great job of discussing how to go through college debt free. 1. Go to a school you CAN afford. Attend a community college the first two years and knock out your pre reqs to save money and then transfer to your desired school. 2. Stay in state. 3. Get a job 4. Apply for as many scholarships as you can. There are ways to do it if you are intentional. It’s just not easy, unfortunately.

  • Cynthia

    Thank you Rachel. My oldest daughter loved this interview, so did I! n

  • Aimee

    What about moms such as myself who want to go back to finish my BA degree but still have little ones at home? It wouldn’t be economical for me to get a job to work through school because of the cost of childcare. I don’t want to take out a large student loan at this point in my life, so am I better off to wait until my kids are not in need of childcare to go back to school, apply for grants or just suck it up and take out the big loan so that I’ll be paying for both my kids and my own college when I go back to working full time?

  • christine

    What is this man’s problem with his eyes?