So often as planners we focus the college education discussion on the financial considerations. At the top of that list today is debt management. Parents are concerned their children will be burdened upon graduation with so much debt that it will limit their ability to eventually “get ahead.” While this is certainly a valid concern given the jumps in tuition over the past 15 years, it’s not the only concern.

If we can agree that a college education will provide most young adults with a better career opportunity, and if we can further agree that whatever debt they do have will be worth it to achieve their professional goals, then we should certainly make sure they finish their degree, in order to make sure there is a return on their investment.

Students who drop out of college are four times more likely to default on their student loans than students who graduate according a recent article in the Detroit Free Press. There are some great alternatives to college for those who are passionate and talented in a needed profession, but the odds are against you relative to the person who completes a degree. As this article would suggest, we just need to make sure the student completes the degree. That appears to be a critical step in being able to pay back their debt.