The Student Loan Advice That Mark Cuban Swears By

A self-made billionaire, who helped pay his way through college by giving disco lessons and who bought his first business at 21, entrepreneur and investor Mark Cuban has been crunching numbers for decades. And for students who may be weighing their options when it comes to college (and their future), Cuban has some financial advice to give; specifically, when it comes to student loans. Said Cuban, via X, formerly known as Twitter, "The most important criteria when choosing a college is affordability. Go to a school you can afford."

And Cuban speaks from experience. A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native, Mark Cuban attended the University of Pittsburgh for a year before transferring to Indiana University, where he graduated in 1981 from the Kelley School of Business. He didn't choose Northwestern, Harvard, or Stanford. But IU in Bloomington, Indiana. Why? Because it had the lowest tuition of the top 10 business schools, and Cuban was confident that he could learn what he needed from IU without paying the tuition to attend a more name school.

Mark Cuban on community college

In addition to choosing a college you can afford, Mark Cuban also says attending a "community college that offers transferable credits is always smart." In his opinion, what students learn in their first and second years in college can be learned at two-year institutions just as well, and that name schools don't offer more value when it comes to earning general education credits. "There isn't a lot of value add from big name schools for freshman or sophomore classes," Cuban explained (via X), adding, "particularly when a motivated student can augment their studies with free online courses from the big names."

According to the College Board on 2023-2024 tuition, the cost to attend a public four-year college (in-state) is $11,260 versus $41,540 for a private four-year college. Consider, this is only for tuition for a year; students also need to pay for housing, food, and books. In comparison, to enroll in a local two-year community college, where a student will most likely continue living at home, the average cost is $3,990 a year.

Mark Cuban on college degrees

While Mark Cuban may not think attending a pricey college for four years is ultimately worth the investment (and student loan debt), he does believe that getting a college degree (you can afford) can make a difference when it comes to a person's future. In an interview with "Make It" on CNBC, the Dallas Mavericks owner said that, in his opinion, "the greatest separation between you and your wealth is having a college degree."

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a correlation between a person's level of educational attainment and how much they might earn. For example, per the statistic bureau's 2022 data, a person with a two-year degree earned 15% more in median weekly earnings (before taxes) than a person with a high school diploma. And a person with a four-year degree earned 40% more.

Mark Cuban graduated from Indiana University in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in business. And, again, he chose IU because it had a top 10 business school and the least-expensive tuition. He knew, once there, he'd maximize what IU could offer him. Said Cuban in an interview with his alma mater, "I learned to challenge myself at IU. There were so many resources. Not just in the classroom, but the libraries, the city, the profs."