By Jamie Lindsey

Alright millennials, let’s all grab our student loan bills, gather around the dumpster fire, burn them to keep warm, and then have one good, hard cry together. Because we are losers. At least that’s how I feel. I was sold into this “dream of college” with a degree that, on average, doesn’t pay that much. I was sold into that dream without the knowledge or expectation of how much debt my degree would create. I originally had taken out around $29k in loans for my education. That amount has now come to settle around $40k with interest and late fees. Going to college can cause a lifetime of financial obligation, so before making the decision to go, inform yourself about all aspects of college and student loan debt. Here are a few things to consider that I wish I would’ve known before I decided to go to college.

  1. Student Loan Companies

The two biggest student loan companies, Navient and Sallie Mae, are publicly traded companies that are wanting to make a profit off of your debt. These companies have no concern for you, your family, your income, or your hardships. You are only a number to them. They only want you alive so you will continue to pay them and make them money. A lot of money. In fact, the CEOs from both companies take home well over $5 million a year according to Salary.com. Sallie Mae also recently benefited from the corporate tax cut and now pays $20 million less in taxes. While these companies are profiting off you and the government, state tuition rates are hiking, making students pay more for their education.

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  1. Tuition is Rising

Missouri Southern State University recently avoided a $1.1 million dollar fine from the Department of Education for increasing their 15% tuition hike, according to the Joplin Globe. Why would MSSU be fined for raising tuition prices? Perhaps because there are federal laws in place that prevent state colleges from raising tuition rates higher than the rate of inflation, which is currently at 1%. Missouri Southern chose, instead, to make students only pay $20 more per-credit-hour, rather than the original $30 more, but only for this year, then the original 15% hike will still be in effect for the 2019-2020 school year, according to the Joplin Globe. When state budgets get cut, higher education is always on the chopping block. And when higher education funds are cut, like they were in Missouri, tuition rates will continue to increase, putting the stress of financial burden on incoming students.

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  1. Student Loan Debt is Growing

Currently at $1.5 trillion dollars according to NPR, the country’s student loan debt continues to rise. The amount has doubled since the 2008 recession. If states continue to cut funding to higher education, this number is going to continue to rise as younger generations continue to enroll in college.

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  1. Your Debt Won’t Disappear

It’s there until it’s paid off. This is unfortunate for people who are living on a low income with a college degree. Affording an extra bill every month is a huge struggle for a lot of people. Many of us just don’t have the extra money to spare on a student loan payment. When your debt doesn’t get paid, your interest grows. And you will end up paying a whole lot more than your original amount.

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  1. The Future is Uncertain

After doing research on this article, I found many different perspectives on student loan debt. Researchers from many articles, like this one, say that the student loan industry won’t cause a huge financial crisis like many people think. Other articles say different. NPR did a report that mentioned how students loans were a good thing because it offered students more opportunities; such as taking more classes and earning a better GPA. The Center for Responsive Politics website showed that there are currently 15 bills and/or amendments in Congress that refer to student loan debt. The future, as of now, is uncertain.

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In reality, we should all be paying attention to what happens with the student loan debt crisis. If it is not affecting you now, it will be affecting your children or family members in the future. Do your research. Understand the choices you have before starting college.

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