I’m so tired of student loans. Watching Congress haggle over a generation’s education, listening to those that say students should just get a job or pick a cheaper school, seeing more and more graduates struggle to pay for school—it’s maddening.
Every month goes to paying my student loans. I’m part of the group of individuals whose debt now topples $1 trillion, and I’m one of the lucky ones.
Unlike some of the classmates I went to graduate school with I have a job—one that allows me to pay my loans back. It’s a job that I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have without my education, but if you asked me if .
I’m part of a generation that was taught to measure our self-worth based in part on the grades we got, the schools we got into and the jobs we were offered. And then we graduated into a recession and even becoming a nurse or a lawyer or a teacher was no longer safe.
But while I have a job and don’t have the six-figure student loans some of my friends do my debt weighs heavily on mind.
My student loans determine the jobs I can take, the places I live and the relationships I have. I can’t imagine owning a house until I’ve paid off my loans and forget having kids. On average someone with a college degree earns $900,000 more over a lifetime than someone without one, someone with a master’s degree earns $1.3 million more over a lifetime than someone with high a school degree. Being a parent, to me, means being able to pay a majority of a child’s college.
The talking heads on television say student loan debt is a drag on the economy, and it is. But those holding the pieces of that $1 trillion in debt didn’t make the rules. The rules that said those with college degrees earn more over a lifetime, the ones that raised the cost of college so that it was out of reach, the ones that changed the laws giving those who used a loan to pay for their education less rights than those who used a credit card to buy a big screen television.
If Congress fails to act the interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, but that isn’t the real problem. The inaction of congress to rein in college tuition is. The cost of attending the University of California Berkeley has increased 2,000 percent since the 1970s. A federal Pell Grant covers about one-third of cost of a public four-year in-state education. In the 1970s it covered more than 70 percent and in the 1980s it covered half.
We won’t be better off than our parents a friend recently told me. Maybe we just have to figure out how to be happy with that, how to determine our self-worth on something else. Maybe we’ll be better off for it.
But what about the next generation—with college costs continuing to rise what happens to them?