Let my mom tell it, I am the master of hyperbole. I have a tendency to use strong verbs partnered with expressive adjectives. For me, it has the effect of making language more vibrant and colorful but others just call it being dramatic. Let me give you an example:
In 2012 my best girlfriends and I went on a Mediterranean cruise. We traveled to Italy, Greece, and Turkey on a mind-blowing 7-day excursion. While in Greece we took a quick dip into the Mediterranean Sea.Â At some point while I was in the water I wanted my shoes (there were rocks in the water that were hurting my feet. It was painful!). No one wanted to throw them to me for fear that they would get washed away. At this point I emphatically yelled, â€Throw me my shoes or Iâ€™m going to die!â€ So if you want to take my exclamation that â€œStudent Loan Debt is Ruining our Livesâ€ with a grain of salt, Iâ€™d understand.
(Those rocks are sharp!)
But before you write me off, I want you to think about these facts:
1. In 2012 Student Loan Debt reached trillion dollar levels for the first time in history. 1
As education costs continue to rise, young adults that choose to pursue higher education are forced to take out loans to cover the cost. In our parentsâ€™ day, working a part-time job could fund college tuition. Today, it is like taking out a mortgage.
2.Â Young adults are becoming â€œdegree poorâ€
Many analysts are saying that student loan debt will lead the next major financial crisis. Similar to what we saw happen with defaulting mortgages, students are taking on more debt than they can afford and are defaulting at record numbers. In fact, Chase Bank is already trying to get out of the student loan business2,,which does not bode well for the future. It is actually pretty scary.
3.Â Young adults have highest unemployment rate
It is undeniable that more education increases your prospects of finding a well paying job, but it certainly does not guarantee it. Many debt-ridden and degreed young adults are jobless3. Their degree has not yet paid off like they thought it would.
(Click to enlarge graph)
4.Â We still have our whole lives ahead of us
After you take on student loans, you still have a life to live. You will likely need to pay for a wedding, a home, children, perhaps your childrenâ€™s education, and eventually your retirement. Student loan debt creates a compounding issue that will make it increasingly difficult for you to build wealth over your lifetime.
I am not suggesting that education is not important or that student loans are not sometimes helpful. What I am saying is that the economic landscape has changed drastically for our generation and we need to start acting like it. The days are gone when having a degree meant that you could get a job easily. We have to be more strategic in our efforts and more thoughtful in our plans. Education requires a financial game plan. Here are some questions that everyone should consider before taking on student loan debt.
1. How much debt do you feel comfortable with?
2. What do you expect your annual income to be upon graduation?
3. If you take on the loans needed to complete your degree program what will your interest rate and minimum monthly payment be upon graduating.
4. Can you easily support your minimum monthly payment given your expected income?
5. How long will it take you to pay off your debt and how much will you pay in finance charges?
6. What are your options?
Asking these questions will allow you to be informed when it comes to making decisions about student loans.