I took out student loan debt (irresponsibly) in previous courses of studies, and then sometime after graduation decided to go to law school. I received no scholarship from my law school and ended up (more responsibly) taking out a lot—and I mean, A LOT—of student loan debt. In the middle of my studies for my J.D. I realized that the legal job market was a catastrophe and that I didn’t really even want to practice, anyway. But I finished my degree because I wanted to finish what I had started and I had planned on possibly doing further academic work into the future—and a J.D., frankly, looks really good on a C.V.
The position I’m in now is this. My wife works out of the home and I work from home while staying home with our baby daughter. We do okay financially and what we are doing now has some room for profit-growth. But there is NO WAY that we will be able to fully repay our student loans until they are forgiven. My wife, a teacher, will have her loans entirely forgiven after a period of time. I will have my loans—a more substantial amount—forgiven after a longer period of time, because I’m on income-based repayment. I actually plan on continuing to pay my loans literally until I die, at which point they’ll be forgiven. But we’re basically scraping away at the interest, which continues to grow on the principle. So unless we make our way in the very top of the tax bracket (highly unlikely), then my loans will never be completely repaid.
I now have an opportunity to do further graduate studies, but it will require yet more student loans (that will never be fully repaid). Knowing that they likely won’t be paid back, but will be forgiven at death or after a certain amount of time, is it a sin to take them out? The upside is that I’ll be better qualified for doctoral research and academic jobs, which, if it all works out, will allow us to pay back even more of our debt than is being paid now. The downside is that these are just more loans that we won’t repay, especially if the vocational route I’m on doesn’t end up working out. The program is actually an international one at a very good university that is almost fully funded. So we’ll have to opportunity to live and work in Jerusalem while I’m completing the degree—an added perk. Because it is a shorter degree and almost fully funded, it ends up being almost as cheap as going to the local school down the road.
We already live very, very thriftily and we really don’t splurge. The only “splurge” is this degree, which may open up further avenues for financial gain, but that is by no means a guarantee. Any thoughts?