Growing up, students were taught to get a higher education in order to make a comfortable living for them and their families. Now, those college graduates are crippled with large amounts of debilitating student loans and are unable to start a family of their own. According to the credit bureau TransUnion, the average student loan debt carried by each borrower has risen 30% to $23,829 in the past five years. These graduates should be stimulating the economy by buying cars and houses, but instead they are sending their paychecks to the bank to pay back their enormous loans.
The aggregated amount of student debt has soared over the past several years due to so many people deciding to go back to college after being laid off from their jobs, a rapid rise in college tuition, and schools that give out worthless degrees. The New York Times states that in the 1970s, the median wage was 40% higher for college graduates than for those with just a high school diploma; today, the wage premium has risen to about 80%.
Although there are options to get a degree quickly, it is not always the best idea. It is concerning that some schools promise a degree in less time, yet charge the same amount as a four year university. The Art Institute is one of the biggest offenders. They offer a three year culinary program that costs close to $100,000 while the graduates only average about $12 per hour after graduation. It is impossible to pay back those types of loans with basically a minimum wage job.
Also, possible employers would much rather hire someone who has been studying the subject for four to six years rather than just a few months, so it can be very challenging for those students to find a job. The fact that our country’s student loan debt is currently valued at $1 trillion dollars, while the cost of tuition is rapidly increasing, is the most concerning effect of this crisis. Today, about half of college graduates are either underemployed or do not have a job at all.
The tide is not going to turn until the job market improves. One of the problems in the job market is that jobs are not opening up as quickly as they should because people are pushing back retirement to help pay for their children’s loans. Students fresh out of college are putting off getting married and starting families because they do not have the secure job future they were promised would come with their college degree. Families have also decreased in size because parents are not able to afford as many children.
Public schools are overflowing with students because the alternative private schools are just too expensive. This debilitating debt could cause the millennials, people aged 18 to 34, to be one of the first generations in America to not make a better living than their parents did. It is not ethical to force such a large amount of debt on an 18-year-old who has never even had a credit card before. Too many schools use students as pawns to make thousands of dollars than actually helping them succeed and become a member of a functioning society.
The student loan debt problem is going to continue to rise dramatically unless we stop the problem where it started- the greedy universities and “for-profit” schools. Our government needs to make laws and restrictions based on how much a school can charge for tuition. Because filing for bankruptcy with student loans is impossible, the schools continue to raise the cost of tuition knowing that they will most likely get their money in the end.
Now, we have schools charging ridiculous amounts for a mediocre degree while the average graduate makes about $12 an hour. There is no way in the world that graduate would be able to pay off those gargantuan student loans without having more than one job. Tuition should be a percentage of the average income of an employer with that degree so that it is possible to pay back in a reasonable amount of time. If schools went back to offering a great education for an affordable price our country would have a much easier time fixing our limping economy.