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LifestyleColumnistsAsk Amy

Is it wrong to take on some student debt?

DEAR AMY: I'm looking for insight. I am in my mid-20s and hold a liberal arts degree. Since graduating from college, I've held five jobs for a variety of reasons (including being laid off twice). I'm currently unemployed and questioning whether I should stay in this "creative" field, because it has been difficult to find stable employment and doesn't seem to be for me. I am considering going back to school in a health-related field. I live with my boyfriend (a successful engineer) who believes I shouldn't borrow money to go back to school. He thinks I should just find a job that will pay the bills and won't require debt. I disagree and believe sometimes student debt can be for the best if you have better job prospects at the end. We discuss marriage and a future, and he believes student debt will mean delaying other life goals, like having a home and a family. We don't have any undergraduate debt. I am going to counseling, but I'm curious about what you and your readers have to say, or if any of you have been in similar situations.

-- Potential Grad Student

DEAR STUDENT: Having some student debt shouldn't delay your other life goals, as long as you limit it to a reasonable amount that you can take full responsibility for repaying. (I graduated college with debt, but it was manageable.) I agree with your guy that you (currently unemployed) should not run headlong into full-time graduate school if you must take out loans to finance it.

You should start by pursuing an entry-level job or paid internship in a health-related business. You can use this work experience to see if a graduate degree is necessary, or if you can perhaps take some classes or training and receive certification in a health-care field.

Ideally you would work while you are going to school, and though it would take you longer to receive your education, you could take it in stages and reduce the financial load -- and risk.

DEAR AMY: The letter from "Audience Member" really bothered me. This was a guy who told a female performer that she should smile while playing on stage. I sympathize with the female musician. My "concentrating/in the zone" face is often mistaken for a frown, and I'm not in the public eye nearly as much as a performer would be.

-- Heather

DEAR HEATHER: I wonder if this "Audience Member" would offer the same advice to Keith Richards.

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