I have a young friend in a neighboring state who graduated college a few years ago with a liberal arts degree. She has way over $100,000 of student debt. Her monthly payments are similar to what she would pay on a mortgage for a small house. However, work has been sparse and for many months the debt went unpaid, racking up onerous penalties. Like 85 percent of recent college grads, she couldn't find a job that paid enough to even split a rental with friends, so she had to come home and live with her parents.
Most men dont want to get seriously involved and committed to her for fear they may become responsible for her debt. There was a recent story of a young woman with $100,000 of student debt for a photography degree who was engaged to be married. Right before the wedding, her fiance asked to see all her debt. He was surprised to see that she had $170,000 of debt and called off the marriage.
Right at the age when they should be marrying and buying a home... they aren't eligible for a mortgage as they already have too much debt. Many also have credit card debt and car payments. A lot of Baby Boomers were planning on funding their retirement by selling their homes to this generation.
Unfortunately, the politicians in their wisdom passed a law that, unlike most other debt, student debt is not dischargeable by declaring bankruptcy. Start missing payments and the penalties can double or triple the debt. So our youth are stuck with very heavy loans, interest rates and penalties... for decades. They are DEBT-SLAVES to the banks for life. Recently, student debt surpassed total credit card debt and is approaching $1 trillion dollars.
Students (and parents) PLEASE try to avoid going into debt for your education. Like my friend, DON'T assume you will get a good job and pay off the debt. You WON'T. If you love social work, check to see if there are any jobs and what they pay. Dont take on $100,000 of debt if the job pays $30,000 a year. There is much more need for good plumbers and electrical linesmen and auto mechanics than another psych major or lawyer. Unfortunately, many people in our society often turn 'up their noses' at these essential and often lucretive jobs.
To be honest, DON'T major in Psychology, English, French, Sociology, History, Women's Studies, Art History, Photography, etc. And DON'T go to Law School... many are graduating with huge debt from college and law school and are waiting tables, parking cars or doing 'document searches' in the basement of law firms for $12 an hour... and the internet may take those jobs away. If you must go to college, learn a trade like engineering, nursing, pre-med, even farming.
Many kids go to college because their friends ar going, their parents want them to, or they dont know what to do with themselves. DON'T. It's OK to take off a year and work and save money. I took off a year and worked in the Big Horn mountains of Wyoming (very exciting). Then I painted houses and cut lawns and pumped gas while taking two pre-med courses at an inexpensive college (with some of the best professors I ever had) and lived and ate at home to save money. (I already had a French degree but that is a different story.) Start at a community college for the first two years. These schools are excellent and very inexpensive. Many parents want the expensive, prestigious school but two of my kids went to WestConn and got a good, and much less costly, education and have NO student debt now.
BHS students and parents, I am wishing you all the best. This is a very exciting time of year as you get accepted at the college of your dreams, as you go off to be on your own, as you begin working on your glorious future. PLEASE, do it with eyes wide open Please try to NOT take on debt that will weigh you down for decades.
Please go to sites like studentloanjustice.org go to "Victims," then click on a state and weep... but learn from their experience.
And best wishes to all of you
Robin Appleby M.D.