Harry Potter and the Student Debt from Hell

Look out, Gringotts – the Hogwarts Business Office will clean out your vaults!

By , Columnist

Well, it looks like aspiring witches and wizards everywhere might need a magical money tree to receive a Hogwarts education. According to a study by a couple of economics students at Lehigh University, it would cost the families of non-Muggle children more to enroll at the fictional university made popular by the books and films revolving around Harry Potter, the boy wizard, than to enroll at Harvard.

Using Amazon UK to research the cost of comparable items to those listed in the requirements letter Harry receives in the series’ first installment, as well as looking at average costs for private higher education in the UK, they came up with this pricey breakdown:

Tuition: $42,366
Textbooks: $516
Three robes: $488
Wand: $162
Gloves: $123
Cloak: $80
Pointed hat: $32

And as the blog reminds us, “This of course is the bare minimum and doesn’t consider the cost of pets, Quidditch robes and other incidentals that every student invariably faces. Nor does this analysis account for the premium paid for magical items.”

Now, being a Muggle, I clearly didn’t get the sort of in-depth, historically rich, and high-pressure instruction Hogwarts graduates can reference on their resumes. But what I am familiar with is the amount of debt incurred by private colleges and universities.

Even with grants and scholarships to help us, college grads outside of J.K.’s world are entering the real world with more student debt than ever. Some of us defer payment by continuing our educations - and consequently racking up more debt - while others of us start paying our lenders immediately following our mandatory six-month grace periods. It’s a challenge to balance the methods we used to fund our pasts while still trying to prepare for our financial futures.

So to all the Harrys, Rons, and Hermiones out there who are looking to defeat the awesome foe that is student debt, I’ve got a few tips that we Muggle 20-somethings are all too familiar with:

Know when your grace period begins and ends so you don’t miss important payment due dates.

Give yourself a timeline for repayment, and pay as much as you can each month, not just the minimum.

Keep an open line of communication with your lender - they need to have your most current information, and also will likely work with you in extenuating circumstances.

Maintain a prompt and timely repayment schedule, as missing or late payments will drive your interest rate through the roof or even push you into default.

See if your career field qualifies for loan forgiveness (find out more at IBRinfo).

Find discounts when you start repaying. Timely repayment over an extended time and making online payments are just two practices that lenders often reward their debtors for, usually with a small decrease in your interest rate.

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Emmie Scott is an English major-turned-marketing exec, with a passion for writing, humor, sharing knowledge, and "pink drinks." After hours, she started Are Toe Rings Professional Attire?, a blog for college grads and twenty-somethings looking to find their way through that daunting labyrinth called…

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