Not if you’re going to be paying for it for the rest of your life:
Stats from the Department of Education show outstanding student loans total more than $1 trillion. A report from The Institute for College Access in late 2013 revealed the average new graduate starts his or her life with $29,400 in student loan debt. College as we know it is clearly unaffordable.
So my question is: Why do people keep embarking on the “traditional college experience” when they know it’s going to put them tens — sometimes hundreds — of thousands of dollars in debt?
And while some people say these 18-year-old kids don’t know what they’re getting themselves into, let’s not pretend we don’t know better. I distinctly remember asking my friend how he would pay off the roughly $70,000 debt he would incur to obtain a major in Ancient Greek and Latin at a liberal arts college in the Midwest. His answer? A simple shrug and flippant “It’s not something I have to worry about right now — hopefully they’ll be forgiven by the government.” Now that he’s still waiting tables four years after graduation, I’d say it’s well past time to start worrying.
I can’t pretend I completely understand how these people feel after the fun is over and the repayments begin, but I can say that I really don’t feel bad for them.
Why not? Because I worked hard to avoid taking out loans. My wonderful parents and grandmother helped me pay for my education, but in the end, it was a few decisions I made that saved me the burden of borrowing money I would never have been able to pay back. Unlike the majority of my friends who went to schools less than an hour from their parents’ homes and chose to live on campus rather than commute, my college roommates were named Mom and Dad. I chose state schools that were half, sometimes one-quarter, of the cost of the schools my friends were attending and worked a part-time on-campus scholarship job in addition to full-time hours at my retail job.
In fairness, it should be pointed out that there is an entire predatory industry, aided and abetted by the federal government, the public school system, and far too many parents, encouraging graduating seniors to make stupid and short-sighted decisions. This doesn’t excuse the terrible decisions they are making, but it does help explain them.
I’m a little curious about what I can only presume is a new editor at TIME. They’ve been running some surprisingly good columns of late.