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Student Loan Debt: Don't Play the Blame Game

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Somewhere along the line, people began to assume that a college degree was synonymous with the Golden Ticket. “Earn a degree, and make more money! Go to college, and get a better job! College is the answer!” seemed to be the attitude to have.

While it’s true that statistics have shown college graduates tend to earn higher salaries than high school graduates, other factors need to be considered. I know plenty of people who have college degrees that don’t even have jobs at the moment, let alone spectacular high-paying jobs that are making them rich.

I’m certainly not trying to be pessimistic, but I am urging you to be realistic … especially if you take out student loans to attend school. Borrowing money is serious business.

This morning I ran across a recent New York Times article on the topic. A May 28th piece by Ron Lieber profiled a young woman that decided to do whatever possible to attend one of the best colleges in the country. She graduated from New York University with nearly $100,000 in student loan debt from her four years in college, and she can’t even afford the monthly loan payments. Therefore, she’s been taking night school classes, which allow her to defer her loan payments.

I actually know a few different people in that same situation, and I’m not sure what they’re going to do once they earn their second, third, or fourth degree.

Far too many people assume that once they have a degree, they’ll instantly start earning the big bucks and student loan payments will be no problem. A full-time job will most likely pay you more than a part-time job you held during college, but you’ll also have to pay rent and utilities, buy groceries and personal necessities, get a work wardrobe, buy a car if you need one and pay for car insurance … it can get a little bit overwhelming. Should you find a job straight out of college, don’t forget that it takes time and effort to climb up the ladder at work. Sometimes those student loan payments are just as much as a month’s rent.

Massive Student Loan Debt: Who’s to Blame?

It seems that a lot of people are now claiming that they didn’t realize how much debt they were accumulating during college, and someone should have warned them. Lenders offered the money, schools wanted to keep students, so no one said a word and loan paperwork was signed.

The mother of the girl in Lieber’s article agrees:

“Had somebody called me and said, ‘Do you have a clue where this is all headed?’, it would have been a slap in the face, but a slap in the face that I needed,” said Cathryn Munna. “When financial aid told her that they could get her $2,000 more in loans, they should have been saying ‘You are in deep doo-doo, little girl.’ ”

In 2009, Robert Applebaum started a Facebook group called “Cancel Student Loan Debt to Stimulate the Economy” which gained 2,500 members within two weeks. It seems as if everyone wanted to jump onto the bandwagon along with Applebaum.

I definitely empathize with everyone in this situation – I’m paying off my own student loans even though I don’t work in the field I studied during college – but in all honesty, the people who are complaining are the same ones who took out massive amounts of student loans.

Realize what you are signing before you sign it, and ask for an explanation if you’re not quite sure. You’re going to be responsible for repaying that money — whether you graduate or not – even if you don’t earn as much money as you’d hoped you would.

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New York Times


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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