In all fairness, prior to heading off to college many years ago, I didn't give this much thought (Ok - none) and my parents weren't in a position to assist me with this analysis, so expecting that of a college bound student today (or their parents) is perhaps a little disingenuous. But I think that the stakes are higher today -- college is more expensive, and the job market is a little more tenuous.
So I prepared a little calculator -- very simplistic -- but maybe at least one young college or trade-school person or their parents will benefit from it. If nothing else, to start the conversation about the overall cost, and the long term impact of taking out those easy-to-get student loans.
Items in BLUE can be changed (the others can as well, but it will disrupt the automatic calculations) -- the remaining items will calculate automatically (Note: the calculator below functions on PCs but the plug-in does not work on mobile devices, unfortunately - but you can download onto your tablet by clicking on the button below):