As the warm weather slips away and the green starts to leave the trees, students get to feel a different type of green leaving their pockets. And by the thousands. It’s that time again when every student who’s forced to take out thousands in student loans gets to learn about how much more they get to add to their monstrous bill. At a time when American debt is at the highest point in history, student loans have helped in holding middle class Americans back financially because of the rising costs of tuition. This added with less and less in the way of grants for students( though they have very slightly increased this year due to be PELL grant bill included with our “Healthcare Reform”)has helped to cause student loan debt to exceed credit card debt in America. According to the publisher of FinAid.org, Mark Kantrowitz, student loan debt has risen to $850 billion while revolving consumer debt (credit cards, etc.) are pegged at about $828 billion.
Since the end of the Clinton administration, it has become harder for average Americans to afford college, let alone first generation American’s or first generation college-going American’s. The amount of grants (or money that need not be paid back) has shrunk while the amount of federal loans and tuition has grown drastically. This has made the amount that students are expected to pay back after graduation grow to a number that almost seems fictional.
Some students get a taste of both worlds by racking up some bills on a credit card or two as well. A student featured in Steven Kent’s Money College column described the burden of “College Debt” as not a monkey on her back but a ” Silverback Gorilla” as she is 26 and on the verge of bankruptcy. This can be a scary thought for those of us looking to graduate within the next year, an even scarier thought for those who are going through the student loan bit for the first time.
Scared? Don’t be.
Thousands of Americans are going through the exact same thing you are, and millions have done it in the past. Though the numbers may be larger, the tools at your disposal to lower those numbers can help make the crunch feel a bit less crunchy.
Five5 Things that can help you from becoming buried by debt:
1.Choose a career that you love, but also has an outlook able to sustain your debt amount.
2.Meet with college planners to help find out what expenses you really have in college.
3.Only take what you need in loans. Though that refund check looks good with a few zeroes and even better with a comma, know you’ll be paying that back and third or more in interest when you get out
4.Use the system against itself. If they want you to borrow than borrow away-but do it smart. Go on to more school when you’re out if the job you’re looking for isn’t available. More schooling won’t hurt your resume as long as its related to what you want to do, so if the economy’s got you scared then seek the safety net of a good education
5.Don’t lose faith in our American economy! Though they won’t tell you this, our country has gone through hard times before. (Some much worse than this.) If we all work together to keep our taxes down, spending to its least amount, and have faith in the buying power of the U.S. dollar then our current situation will put the green back in our pockets by the time the green is back on the trees!