While I know of no easy formula for determining the value of a college degree, I do agree with Robert Katz ("Welcome, freshman! And now the bad news," Sept. 13) when he contends that our country faces an "unmanageable level" of student debt -- one that can burden students far into their adult lives.

College loans are projected to exceed $1 trillion in 2012. But there is another option: private scholarships. Nearly $3 billion in scholarships are available each year through corporations, foundations and community groups -- and awards aren't limited to students with stellar grade-point averages.

Many of these scholarships go to students who can demonstrate merit through some combination of initiative, need, interests and talent. We can debate the basis of rising tuition costs, but the fact remains that private financial assistance is out there.

For the committed and college-ready student, private scholarships are an option worth exploring before incurring further debt.


The writer is president and CEO of Scholarship America.