Think twice before working for government to pay off student loans

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With student lending volume growing at an unprecedented clip, many families are taking some comfort in the numerous repayment assistance programs that can come as a perk with some jobs -- most of which require government work.

But today's Wall Street Journalreports (subscription required) that "Scrutiny Grows as U.S. Pays Staffers' Student Loans."

Critics of the lavish spending on student loan repayment programs charge that the security of a government job is an enough of an attraction by itself, especially in this environment, and questions where the student loan repayments are anything more than a handout.

They were adopted in 2002 as part of a plan to attract students to public service -- that's what they call it. I would call it bureaucracy -- but some contend that they're an unnecessary waste of money.

Whether the federal government should offer student loan repayment assistance is outside of my sphere of competence. But with the government wracking up record deficits, there will almost certainly be a push toward cost cutting over the next few years -- and that could put these programs on the line.

So here's my plea to college students and prospective college students: Please, please, please do not take out loans planning to take advantage of these programs without any viable contingency plan. You have no idea whether these programs will exist when you graduate, and any financial aid officer who tells you about them has no stake in the outcome.
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