Let me start off by saying I don’t like to curse in public let alone on a platform like this. I’m going to say some really bad words though because I need to prove a point. Are you ready? Here we go. Interest, student loan debt, unsubsidized loan, direct loan, Stafford loans, Perkins loans and PLUS loans! Boy oh boy, those are the words many of us who have been to college hoped to never hear again. They are also the words referring to the huge amounts of debt people have gotten themselves into in an effort to better their lives by getting a college education. They are simple words; however, to a person facing the debt that comes with ballooning interest and payments that often start within 6 months of college graduation, they sound like harsh profane words to one’s ear.
The American dream touts the importance of gaining a college education to ensure your future is set financially. Commercials are all over the place and they make college look attractive. They show you the options for college are greater now that students can complete their education online. If you think you can’t afford college on your own, you are then prompted to complete the FAFSA (student aid) application to see how much you can qualify for in grants and loans if necessary. Based on income requirements most who apply end up with some sort of student loan that gets deferred until they complete school or quit. Why wouldn’t one want to take out these low-cost loans since graduating from college is bound to give you a six-figure job right? Nope! When graduation day comes not everyone is fortunate enough to get a six-figure job. A lot of people end up with a five-figure job that is often under $50k. That amount is disappointing in the face of debt that can go upwards toward $100k. The loans and the subsequent repayment of such is a suffocating reminder that we need to figure out a better way to allow people to complete their education that doesn’t make them second guess the decision to go to school in the first place.
The decision to go to school is not as easy as many think. The process takes time and work and so does the process to get funds. All of that has been thrust more into the public eye with the placement of Betsy Devos as the US Secretary of Education. In November 2017, news pages all over jumped on the headline that noted how Trump was canceling Obama era protections for student loans. After a court battle, it seems that much of what they were trying to change was struck down, but how long can we continue this fight? How long can we maintain the current structure of student loan debt and repayment? With growing interest rates (4 increases in 2018) people are simply worried about how to afford daily living let alone student loans. America seems to be losing its edge and people are suffering. Education is still a key component for success but at this cost how successful will the next generation be?
As long as we have colleges, we will need to have students. Some colleges are closing due to low enrollment. One can’t help but think this is due to the lack of available funds for people to attend colleges. Will this be the new trend? We simply can not afford to let that happen. Write to the Department of Education. Elect legislators who understand education, rights of the student and how important affordable education options are. Let’s not take this lying down. Stand up and push for the right to finance education responsibly.
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