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Veteran and business owner leaves behind helpful student loan guide: book review

OPINION: A business owner and veteran created a quality college loan guide for parents and students

Retired Air Force Colonel David Shutler wanted to create a book people like him could have used when talking to high schoolers about picking and paying for post secondary education.

Colonel Shutler (pictured) did that with his book, “Graduate Debt Free,” but he died last fall before he could see the fruits of his work fully realized.

The College Fix obtained a copy of the book through a publicity firm.

The book provides a helpful way for parents to consider the true cost of student loans and how to avoid or at least minimize their use. Shutler, a small business owner and licensed attorney, applied his experience to this book.

He put three sons through college, including one through Brown University and another through New York University, which sparked an interest in the issue of student loans.

It is a timely book as the total student loan debt in the country remains high and policymakers consider bailing out borrowers.

He provides the reader with “assumptions” that he then challenges throughout the book. These assumptions include “I gotta go to college,” “Community college is a step sideways,” and “Going to college is a risk-free endeavor.”

Throughout the book, Shutler addresses each claim, with some surprising advice.

For example, he explains to the reader how fast food is not a dead-end job nor just for high schoolers – instead, the fast-food industry is a viable path for growth, both for students who want financial aid for college and those that are not interested in a higher education degree.

For example, some companies, like Taco Bell, pay managers $100,000 – and no college degree is required. Burger restaurant In-N-Out pays its managers up to $160,000, with no degree requirement.

Shutler, who also had an MBA, helps the reader calculate the real cost of college, including the cost of living on and off-campus. He also discusses the opportunity cost of going to college.

“Many people make the mistake of underestimating the total cost of college by looking only at the tuition price and concluding that is all they will need to cover,” he wrote in the introduction of chapter three. “They confuse the college’s tuition cost, which is simply the charge for teaching or instruction, with the total cost of attending college, which includes other costs such as housing, meals, transportation, entertainment, books, fees, and loan interest.

The book, while practical and easy to read, also provides the history behind student loans and bankruptcy, helping the reader understand how the higher education system ended up where it is now.

The book is well-sourced but not written in a difficult, academic way.

Rather, it is written to make it easy for parents and students to understand. It also provides resources for further investigation as parents and students to learn more beyond the book.

Colonel Shutler may not have lived to see his book put into action, but his advice lives on in this valuable resource for parents and students.

MORE: Lowe’s creates ‘debt-free’ skills program for employees

IMAGES: Amazon

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.