It’s back to school time, with many college students headed back to campuses, even if they might not be headed into many classrooms. Whether the education is in person or virtual, however, it all comes with a bill, and college students today are graduating with an average debt of $29,000 – and many much, much more. If you have six-figure student loans, you may worry that your college debt will come up against your ability to obtain a government job or pursue a national security career. The reason is that finances are often cited as the top reason applicants are denied a security clearance – and debt does factor into that.
In an article last week Jillian Kramer outlined student loan concerns for security cleared professionals. Applicants shouldn’t be worried about their student loan debt – or any debt that they are consistently paying off. It’s not the amount of debt the government is concerned about for security clearance applicants, but the source of debt, and steps the clearance holder or applicant is taking to pay it off.
Financial considerations are notable for security clearance applicants because in the past, financial irresponsibility has pointed to other issues of reliability and trustworthiness. In the past, a number of famous spies were motivated by a desire to pay off debt they’d unwisely stacked up. With foreign adversaries attacking U.S. credit bureaus, and cross referencing that data with what was stolen in the OPM hack, financial considerations are something clearance holders can’t afford to overlook.
With student loans largely seen as an investment in the future – and your ability to work a national security career in the first place – you don’t need to worry that having some with negatively impact your clearance.