Thursday, June 22, 2017

College Debt Trap- My Laments

    According to Forbes, the average cost of attending a four-year public college is over $28,000 per school year. A private college could cost over $59,000. So let's take the middle #- $43,500. Now, this is still on the high side of public school, but if you multiply $43,500 by four years, a student could end up owing $174,000 for a Bachelor's degree. If the student decides to go on with their schooling, obviously, it will be much more.

    I went to a private Nazarene college. I don't really know how much my tuition was when I attended, but I was fortunately lucky to receive a ton of grants and some scholarships which lessened the amount that I had to take out for loans. I haven't had my parents help in paying for school, all of my loans have been paid for by me and my husband. There is still this idea that when a child goes to college, their parent's will help pay for it and that is what your Fafsa? Fasfa? is based on. That just makes me want to laugh!

    Another funny notion to me is that we are entrusting 18 yr-19 yr old teenagers/young adults to go out and be on their own financially. We say that they are old enough to be able to decide which college they can go to and no one really tells them that even though it is easy to apply for a student loan, they WILL have to pay that off some day. I'm still paying and will for years!
    As an 18 yr old going to college, I was smug. I just knew that I could take out money like it was water and it would be ok. I was going to graduate from college and get a great job with my Business Administration degree. It was going to be easy! I was a great worker, intelligent, and creative, any company would want me right away. I was going to be able to get into a company and move right on up the corporate ladder. They taught me in school that once I got that big fancy degree, I was going to make close to $20,000 more than someone who was my age and only went to high school. They told me that I can get my loans paid off quickly if I paid extra each month, which I should be able to do because I have a great job.  Guess what! That didn't happen.
    When I graduated from college, there were no jobs. No one wanted to hire a fresh face employee with no experience. Entry level jobs wanted someone who already had 3-5 years experience. No one was willing to train me. Maybe it was because the economy had plummeted in 2009 so no one wanted to hire or really could hire, but boy, it was an ego let-down.

    So... Eight years ago, I graduated from college. I haven't really had a chance to use my degree, but my husband has, so I guess that's good. I've had jobs here in there, wherever I could get them, but had to leave the job I loved when my third child was born- child care was just too expensive. Perhaps, when my kids are all in school, I'll get the chance to use my degree at a job that I love. For now, it's just more cost efficient for me to stay home with the kids because all of the school loans that we have make it difficult to add extra expenses like child care, another car payment, you know, things that are a little bit necessary in order to go to your job.
    As a teenager, I went to college because I thought that was just what I was supposed to do. I didn't have a clue what I wanted to be- I still don't! (Well, with the exception of being an actress or famous writer, but I figure I should get a day job that I like in the mean time.) I'm not saying that I'm not grateful- I did after all meet my husband there and had a blast in college, but I wish I knew some things about life before then. Maybe I would have tried working to pay off my loans while I was in school instead of spending hours hanging out.

   I'm not saying to tell your kid not to go to college, because kids/young adults are going to do what they want to do. We can, however, stop telling them how much money they will make if only they went to college. Help them become prepared. Teach them what it's like to have a loan, how long it will take to pay off, how it isn't future them's problem. Teach them that a trade school or vocation is just as good as a degree and it's cheaper than one. Educate them on the other options out there. Pray for them. Give them the option to pick the best choice for them.

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