I know a few geologists and they make a ton of money! None of them have homes because they are never home... They are constantly on the road because they work so much and have to travel the country. 29K is nothing for loans. Most of my friends have 100K plus in student loans! I think I paid 40K just in housing when I was in college... I'd be more concerned with whether or not he is going to be gone most of the time.