The substantial price of a higher education

Society these days seems to be pushing students to go to college. Our culture has college fever, and no one is immune. However, even the most devout college disciples agree that there is one very large obstacle on the road to economic success through college: debt.

A cartoon depicting the heavy weight of debt on the thinking student.  Photo From: changeagentpublications.com
A cartoon depicting the heavy weight of debt on the thinking student.
Photo From: changeagentpublications.com

College debt, virtually unheard of half a century ago, has skyrocketed, becoming one of America’s most puzzling and pressing problems. Statistics show just how badly the problem has become: nearly 60% of college students in America will take out student loans at one point or another, and about 57% of them will graduate with large amounts of debt. Most of those who have college debt can expect to pay the bank somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000; however, payments can range up into the hundreds of thousands. That’s right folks; around 2% of those who borrowed money to attend college end up paying over $100,000. And even if the student graduates, he or she can expect to be paying back money on the student loans for a very long time. More than 15% of loan borrowers will be paying back money when they’re in their fifties. “My sister has masses of college debt,” says Gabriel Arzouni, senior, “She lives with our mother, has a child, and doesn’t have a job, despite her degree. She put everything on the line for a college education and it got her nowhere.”

With the economy the way it always is, everyone wants to earn more money. Students began to flock to college in massive numbers over the past decade, most of them seeking to earn degrees. The huge influx of new students drove up the cost and drove down the quality of the education being offered, unfortunately; competition is now fiercer than ever, and the dropout rate for students has risen.

Sadly, our culture has become deluded into thinking that college equals a good job. While the chance of landing a high paying job is certainly higher with a college education, it is no guarantee, and twenty thousand dollars is a lot of money to risk when the outcome isn’t clear. Lauren Nobriga, junior, speaks out on this, saying “It’s hard for people to pay college debt off when the economy is bad. I know people in their forties who are still paying off college debt; it’s just not a guarantee like everyone says it is.”

Student loans are causing students to graduate with tremendous debt.  Photo From: slant.investorplace.com
Student loans are causing students to graduate with tremendous debt.
Photo From: slant.investorplace.com

Current estimates hold that over one third of college graduates cannot find a job in a field that corresponds to their degree; of those, 40% are completely unemployed. Those who are unemployed are probably stuck at home with their parents watching Sherlock and wondering where their life went wrong. Not that there’s anything wrong with Sherlock…just with college debt.

This, however, should not be a reason to despair. Nor should it dissuade a student who wishes to go to college from going to college; no, the simple fact is that most people would benefit from a little perspective. College is the experience of a lifetime; it can be used as a springboard to greater things, as a staircase to the top of the economic ladder. Or, college can become a soul eating money trap inhabited by ferocious loan sharks. It is up to the student to learn how to avoid the latter, and strive towards the former.

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