Imagine a hypothetical situation: you’re a college student, and you suddenly find yourself facing over $120,000 in student debt with the added blow of academic dismissal. This scenario, as discussed in a recent Reddit post, is a nightmare. But are there ways out?

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Key takeaways

  • Accumulating significant student debt can severely limit earning potential and cause long-term financial instability.
  • Carefully choosing a college and major, considering the return on investment, is crucial.
  • Enrolling in community college presents a strategic method to manage student loans, allowing students to defer loan payments while continuing education affordably.
  • Managing substantial debt is feasible through wise decisions like attending a reputable college, selecting a major with strong job prospects, and completing the degree, thus maximizing educational investment and ensuring financial stability post-graduation.

The Story Behind the Post

The Reddit post in question opens a window into the fears and challenges of many students. “What happens if you are over 120k in student debt and end up being academically dismissed,” the user asks, voicing a concern that resonates with countless others facing similar predicaments.

This scenario is fraught with danger, as one commenter insightfully points out,

 “Student debt at this level is incredibly unwise, regardless of the situation.”

The gravity of being dismissed from college while carrying a six-figure debt is profound. Without the anticipated degree, the debtor’s earning potential is severely compromised, making the daunting task of repaying loans seem almost insurmountable. Another user echoes this sentiment, emphasizing that,

 “The people who are really in trouble with student debt are those who accumulate debt but do not finish their programs.”

The mental and emotional toll of this situation is also significant. As the stress of debt mounts, it can lead to severe anxiety and depression, impacting the individual’s ability to find and maintain employment. This is further complicated by the nature of student loans, which, as one commenter notes, are difficult to discharge in bankruptcy, creating a financial burden that can last a lifetime.

Moreover, the ripple effects extend to life decisions, with one user advising,

“Never get into more debt than about half the starting income for your job for school.” 

This practical advice highlights the importance of considering long-term financial implications when making educational decisions.

In summary, accruing such substantial debt without securing a degree is a perilous situation, affecting not only financial stability but also mental health and future life choices. It underscores the necessity for informed financial planning, responsible borrowing, and adequate academic support for students. The collective wisdom from the Reddit community serves as a cautionary tale and a guide for current and future students navigating the complex terrain of higher education and student loans.

Personal Experiences and Advice

The user community engaged actively and passionately in the discussion on this significant and intriguing topic. While some participants contemplated the core aspects of the scenario, others contributed valuable and pragmatic suggestions.

Evaluating the Cost of Prestige

One of the users opens an important dialogue about the intricate relationship between career choices and the financial implications of educational decisions:

“Everyone I know with over $120k in debt is either a doctor, lawyer, or chose to attend a much more expensive school than necessary.”

This observation speaks much about the high cost of pursuing certain prestigious, yet financially demanding, professional paths such as medicine and law. It also highlights a critical misstep that some students make: overestimating the value of a more expensive education without a clear understanding of its return on investment. It suggests that while investing in one’s future through education is vital, it must be balanced with a pragmatic approach to financial planning. Students need to consider not only the prestige of the institution but also the realistic earning potential of their chosen field. This approach helps in avoiding the trap of debilitating debt, ensuring that their educational choices align with their long-term financial health and career goals. Such mindfulness in planning can lead to more informed decisions, potentially saving students from years of financial strain post-graduation.

The Community College Advantage

The comment, “Enroll in community college so you don’t have to start payments,” sheds light on a strategic approach to managing student debt, one that intertwines educational continuation with financial pragmatism. This advice speaks to the reality many students face: the daunting prospect of loan repayments beginning soon after leaving higher education. By enrolling in a community college, students can often defer their loan payments, granting them valuable time to either re-strategize their academic path or to start working and saving money. This approach not only provides a financial reprieve but also keeps the door open for academic progress. Community colleges offer a more affordable avenue for education, allowing students to continue earning credits, possibly towards a degree, without exacerbating their debt situation. This tactic can be particularly beneficial for those who face academic dismissal or other interruptions in their education journey. It’s a pragmatic reminder that there are multiple pathways in education, and sometimes the less traditional routes can offer both financial relief and a continuation of academic pursuits. For students overwhelmed by the financial implications of their educational choices, this comment offers a practical solution, highlighting the importance of flexibility and strategic planning in navigating the complexities of student loans and higher education.

Balancing Debt with Wise Academic Decisions

Emphasized by a Reddit user, the notion that managing substantial debt can be feasible if one attends a good college, chooses a major wisely, completes their degree, and secures employment, offers a nuanced perspective on the student debt dilemma. 

“If you go to a good college, choose a major wisely, finish your degree, and get a job, even a debt of this magnitude is fine.”

This viewpoint suggests that high levels of debt can be justified and managed effectively under the right circumstances. The key lies in making strategic educational choices—selecting a reputable college and a major with strong job prospects. This approach highlights the importance of not only pursuing higher education but doing so in a manner that aligns with future career and financial stability. Finishing the degree is crucial, as it maximizes the return on the educational investment, opening doors to higher-paying job opportunities that can facilitate the repayment of loans

To explore the complexities of managing student debt and making informed educational choices more, let’s examine a summary of key advice gathered from the Reddit community, categorized for clarity and ease of understanding:

CategoryReddit User AdviceMain point
Career and Debt Management“Everyone I know with over $120k in debt is either a doctor, lawyer, or chose to attend a much more expensive school than necessary.”Consider the return on investment when choosing a degree and the cost of the educational institution.
Strategic Enrollment“Enroll in community college so you don’t have to start payments.”Utilize alternative educational pathways to manage loan obligations and continue education.
Value of Education“If you go to a good college, choose a major wisely, finish your degree, and get a job, even a debt of this magnitude is fine.”The value of education is often worth the debt, provided strategic choices are made regarding major and institution.
Personal Responsibility“If you get booted out, that’s another stupid choice you made.”Acknowledge the importance of personal responsibility in academic performance and financial decisions.
Repayment Strategies“In all case income-based repayment is a real lifesaver.”Explore flexible repayment options like income-based plans to manage student loans effectively.


This exploration into the world of student debt reveals a complex situation filled with challenges and choices. By combining the wisdom of peers with informed decision-making, students can find pathways through this maze, seeking solutions that balance their educational goals with financial sustainability. As the Reddit community shows, while the burden of debt is heavy, the power of shared knowledge and experience is a formidable tool in the journey towards financial freedom.


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