For many Gen X and Gen Y kids, the importance of college was hammered into us starting in grade school. We were drilled with the principle that a good career could not be attained without a proper education and if we didn’t have said career we would live our lives in a destitute fashion, thus never attaining true happiness. It may sound like a harsh lesson, but our parents came from the era where one was able to work their way up and eventually achieve success but it took a very long time.
When we all got out of high school in the nineties and 2000s, we were college zombies. What we planned to do post-college didn’t matter as much as the fact that we were going to attain some sort of formal education following high school. Many of us were trained to not necessarily follow our passion, but to find some sort of career in which we could make money, and if our passion happened to coincide, then bully for us.
However, our parents forgot to tell us that college had gotten a lot more expensive and they couldn’t necessarily afford to send us to school free and clear. Upon applying, we were greeted with FAFSA forms and the glimmer of hope that a grant would come through and cover our tuition. However, what many of the people of this generation realized is that our parents, who had struggled to obtain their position in society, made too much money. Not enough money to pay for our schooling, mind you, but too much for us to qualify for financial aid and thus we faced the cold hard reality of student loans.
The Reality of College Debt
During the late eighties, so-called “middle class” families could afford college tuition and still make ends meet, but as the popularity of higher education rose, so did tuition costs. It is estimated that four years at a state school, these days, costs about $45,000. For many students, at least 75% of that tuition cost will be paid for with student loans as federal grants rarely cover the full amount. The average 2016 graduate comes out of school saddled with $37000 of student loan debt.
While our parents were telling us to get good educations and obtain the high paying career, they weren’t telling us that we were really going to need it! Forget chasing your passion of being a journalist working in the obituary department of your local paper, because that paycheck wasn’t going to allow you to do much more than pay your loans back. For this reason, a lot of people got involved in careers that they didn’t enjoy or weren’t all that sure of, in order to make the money necessary to survive after college and NOT live with your parents again.
Unfortunately, even the people that went into computers or finance faced a harsh reality when they graduated. That reality was that their loans were going to travel with them for a very long time and for some, it was a crushing debt. It is estimated that one in six student loan holders hasn’t made a payment for at least nine months, thus sending them into default status on a government-held debt.
Too many kids are obtaining student loans thinking they will automatically make enough money to pay them back. They’re not being properly educated about the importance of this type of loan, nor are they being schooled about credit scores and defaulted accounts. Due to this lack of education, the very system on which our futures are founded is going to work against us.
The credit system is the determination for whether or not we get apartments, vehicles, credit cards, and even jobs, but student loans are messing that up for a lot of young adults coming out of college. They haven’t been trained to respect the importance of student loans and therefore believe that they’ll pay when they can. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case and they end up damaging their credit in the process.
What a lot of creditors don’t tell you, however, is that they’re usually willing to work with you to get back on track before your credit hits a new low. If you’re dodging student loan companies in hopes that they’ll go away, stop. Call them back and ask how they can work with you to start paying down your monstrous debt. It will only help you in the long run.
For those entering college, determine the importance of the education versus the amount of debt you may be facing and look into viable alternatives like work-study programs, payment plans, and the like. It may make college that much more difficult, but you’ll be in a lot less debt coming out.