Private for-profit technical schools leave students with the heaviest burden of student loan debt, according to a new report from the College Board.

I have long believed that education is the key to climbing the economic ladder. But that doesn't necessarily mean traditional college is the way to go; it could be a trade or technical school for some people. Interestingly, trade schools can be both the cheapest and most expensive option. How is that possible?

A tale of two kinds of technical schools

Well, you can get an education for little or no money at a state-supported tech college. But as a rule, these places aren't exactly known for their customer service in the admissions department. There are, of course, some exceptions.

Or you can go to a for-profit tech college that does heavy advertising on TV and promises an insta-education in about 12 or 18 months. These schools typically use high-pressure recruiters to get you to sign up. They're noted for their customer service in the sense that everyone is happy to see you in the admissions office. They want you to sign for those student loans!

Not surprisingly, the overwhelming amount of student loan defaults are at private for-profit technical schools. Here's one of my key rules to remember when borrowing for any kind of education: Your loan obligations should not exceed your expected first year's salary.

To find out how to qualify for in-state tuition at an out-of-state school, see my latest report.


Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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