Mark Twain famously said, “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.”
And that cabbage today would be jobless and in debt — hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
Not a very successful cultivar.
The New York Times published a very telling series on this crisis — with students, not cabbage — called “Degrees of Debt.”
The Times reported that 94 percent of students who earn a bachelor’s degree borrow money — through federal and private loans and from relatives — to pay for higher education. That’s up from 45 percent in 1993.
In 2011, the average college debt level was $23,300 but 10 percent of graduates owed more than $54,000 and 3 percent owed more than $100,000. What 22-year-old can pay back $100,000 in loans — with interest — fresh out of college? It’s no wonder 1 in 10 borrowers who started repaying loans in 2009 defaulted within two years.
The series featured a recent graduate of Ohio Northern who owned more than $100,000 in student debt. Her monthly payment was more than $900 a month and she was earning just $225 a week working two waitressing jobs while she continued to look for a “real” job.
I’ve been out of graduate school for more than 10 years and I’m still paying student loans. It’s not $900 a month, but it’s still money that I could use for other things like, oh, rent and groceries.
It took me awhile to come to terms with the amount of money I’m paying each month toward a degree I already have in hand. I realize now — years later — how valuable that education is, that if I can make more a month than my monthly student loan payments, I was doing alright, the degree was worthwhile.
But I can’t say that for everyone.
I have friends who are still paying student loans and not working in their degree fields or — worse — not working at all. There are some who are paying off these loans and other loans, including business loans and mortgages.
You can see why we’re a generation that feels overwhelmed.
As much as it hurt to write that check every month, I can honestly say it was worth it. The experience I had, the friends I made, the learning that took place — all of it was worth the monthly payment I’m still making.
Anyone got a horror story about student loans to share? Do you think college is too expensive? Dish here!