Raise your hand if you have student loan debt. I’m sure that a lot of you raised your hands just now. I know I did. Student loan debt is at an all-time high right now. According to Marketwatch, the United States student loan debt exceeds $1.3 trillion. That’s trillions with a T. That is a ridiculous amount. To say that we have a problem with student loan debt is an understatement. I believe that there are several reasons that the student loan debt is so high today. Today, I want to discuss five of them.
Rising College Costs
The cost of college education continues to increase each year causing students to take out more loans. I have compared the tuition and fees for the University of Georgia during the 2006-2007 school year and the 2016-2017 school year. The findings are interesting. The tuition and fees during the 06-07 school year for in-state students were $4964. For out of state students, the tuition and fees were $18,040. For the 2016-2017 school year in-state tuition and fees were $11,634 and the out of state fees were $29,844. That’s an increase of $6670 and $11,804 respectively. If nothing changes, the prices will continue to go up. While the prices are going up, students aren’t able to get more scholarships or grants, so they are left with having to take out more student loans.
Taking Out Too Much
The second reason that I think student loan debt is at an all-time high is because some people take too much loan money out. I’ve seen it first hand at my full-time job. Many students accept all the student loans that they are offered a lot of them don’t take the time out to figure out exactly what they need. I wish they did because the amounts that some students have after 4 or 5 years of college is ridiculous. I also think that some students try to keep up with the Joneses. They see their peers getting refunds and then purchasing clothes or putting a down payment on a new car. They figure that they should do it as well. They don’t realize that “the Joneses” are in debt, and now they are too. To put it in perspective, total student loan debt numbers in the trillions, $1.4 trillion to be exact.
Choosing The Wrong Major
Sometimes people have no idea what they want to do after high school. They attend college and switch their major a couple of times until they find something that they semi like or that they find easy. Once they graduate, they may have a hard time finding a job because that degree doesn’t have that many growth opportunities. Because they are having a hard time finding a job in their field, the students may have to resort to doing any job just to make some money. The job may not even pay them enough, so they have to choose which bills to pay. They may neglect the student loan debt for a while. If that happens, the interest and fees could cause the student loan debt to grow. It happens. That’s why some people default on their loans.
Thinking More School is The Answer
I’m not knocking school at all. I love it. Those were the best 5.5 years of my life. Many people go back to school to get advanced degrees. For some people, they can get the degree and find a new job quickly. Others aren’t so lucky. They struggle when looking for new employment. All they have to show for going to college is more debt. College doesn’t always equal more success. It does equal more debt. I know several people that have over $100,000 worth of student loan debt. I’d probably cry if mine were that high.
There are also some people that fall into the career student category. They stay in school for as long as they can so that they don’t have to pay back their student loans. By them staying in school at least halftime, their loans can be deferred. I don’t think these people ever want to pay their loan debt off.
Making Only The Minimum Payments
The final reason that I believe student loan debt is at an all-time high is that some people only make the minimum payment. I want to stress that while the minimum amount is ok, you should apply a little more money to your payment if possible. If your loan amount is high, the majority of your minimum payment is only going towards the student loan interest. The more money that you pay, the more that will be applied to your principal.
It’s a shame that student loan debt is at an all-time high. I know that it doesn’t have to be like that. If students paid a little more attention to some of the things that I discovered above, I think that they would fare better.