Student loans cloud future

By SpencerRoush

It’s not rare for a recent graduate to travel back to their hometown with nothing to do but pay off a monstrous debt from

higher education.

As recent college graduates move their dorm-worn furniture into parents’ garages and basements for storage, it’s time for them to find a boring retail job to make payments on their student loans.

The retail sales job at the mall is definitely not what their college education was preparing them for. In fact, a college graduate is probably competing with high school students searching for an after-school job.

Because the economy is recovering and jobs for the 16–24 age group are few, the number of students defaulting on college loans increased in 2009, according to data released by the U.S. Education Department on Sept. 13.

The percentage of student borrowers with loans that entered the repayment stage in the 2008 fiscal year and were in default by the end of last September reached an 11-year high of 7 percent.

The 16–24 age group needs to develop long-term backup plans so if a job isn’t obtained immediately after graduation, there will be alternatives. This is especially true for Columbia students, considering it’s an art school with many graduates who are trying to break into a cut-throat industry where few stars emerge. This makes having a backup plan a necessity.

According to an analysis conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education, since 2005 one in every five government loans has gone into default that entered repayment. Though the job market is offering fewer opportunities for young people, this hasn’t stopped recent high school graduates from enrolling in a four-year college and joining the loan repayment rat race.

A higher education is a must for many fields and often a decent paying wage. However, it’s more likely for a high school graduate to enter the workforce than an enrolled graduate, according to 2010 data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Right now there are many factors playing against graduates. Even though college graduates are more likely to receive a higher paying job than those with only a high school degree, with tuition costs rising by as much as 83 percent, wages after reaching the work force have only increased 38 percent. So even if one does find a job after graduation, wages are still not necessarily comparable to college loan repayment amounts.

If attending college has always been a goal, students need to understand their financial obligation to repay the bank and must take the adequate steps to keep their contract.

Just because someone graduates from college doesn’t mean a career will be handed to them. There is a risk of only ending up with astronomical debt, living in one’s parent’s basement with no career to show for the money and time spent in school. However, these statistics should never hinder the collegiate or job finding process, but make students aware of the situation and the need to rise abovethe average.