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Can I go back and explain the concept of debt to my 18-year-old self? With graduation in the not-so-distant future, I find myself filled with trepidation rather than excitement for the major milestone.
The amount of college graduates who have to navigate the already-arduous job market with the added stress of debt is an increasingly growing problem. The average student loan debt increased by more than 10 percent between the years 2011 and 2012, according to a study released by the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS). In 2012, seven out of 10 seniors graduated with an average debt of $29,400. In 2011, the average debt owed was $26,600.
Two types of loans exist: federal and private. If a student takes out a federal loan, he or she will get the added benefits of a fixed interest rate and income-based repayment plans. Private loans are typically more expensive than federal loans, and the interest rates can be up to 18 percent. Federal loans, in general, are probably the better way to go if you’re a typical college student.
But borrowing from a federal company isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Sallie Mae owns my soul and since I have to begin repaying my debt after graduation, I’m starting to wonder who thought it would be a good idea to let an 18-year-old kid fresh out of high school sign the rest of their life away. In my case, that’s not an exaggeration. Remember freshman year, when college was the best thing that ever happened to you and it would be just fine if you took five years to figure life out before you graduated?
I wish someone had been there to guide me and tell me that I had other options. I could have stayed in state and gone to a public university and done just fine, but at the time there just didn’t seem to be any other option than to go have my first real adventure out of state. Lots of people do, I thought, so why couldn’t I?
I didn’t start out as a Buff. I went to a private university in Texas, where, after one semester, I decided it wasn’t the right school for me. I wanted a change of scenery, so I packed up my bags and left for Boulder. I was eager to start over in a new town and graduation seemed so far away that I signed the dotted line with little to no afterthought.
Maybe I was irresponsible. But I also think it’s irresponsible to not have affordable higher education for the citizens of our country, and irresponsible for the powers that be to not warn their applicants about the serious implications of signing a loan. It’s a a Catch-22; it’s established that you have to get at least a bachelor’s degree to get a good job, but lots of students can’t afford to do so. Something’s got to give, and soon.
Contact CU Independent Opinion Editor Bethany Morris at Bethany.firstname.lastname@example.org.