(New York Times) The problem with a lot of the advice that teenagers and their families get about higher education debt is that it’s totally, utterly bloodless.

The federal Department of Education takes its shot in its role as the de facto provider of advice to people borrowing their first federal student loans and repaying them. That counseling is mandatory for borrowers, but because the topic is dense and the department’s content is devoid of anecdotes, it’s tough to make the lessons stick.

So in my column last week, I asked readers to share their own stories and offer the most important thing they wish they had known before they borrowed money and began to repay it. The comments painted a troubling picture of clueless teenagers, frazzled parents and college administrators who may not always take students by the shoulders and question their debt levels.

Not one person suggested that college was a mistake (though a few regret going to law school). Borrowing too little is dangerous if it leads to dropping out or never attending in the first place, and undergraduates who borrow from the federal government without taking on additional private loans are unlikely to get in trouble if they manage the repayment process well.

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