Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Student Loan Hell

Our society at large has a very large problem with money. Everyone wants even when they cannot afford. We are told, either outright or subliminally, that our possessions represent our worth and accomplishments as human beings. It doesn't take a PhD to figure out how that leads us into overwhelming financial crisis whether on a personal scale or taking the form of a worldwide recession.

While the system is complicated and consumers are often at fault to some degree or another, there is a particularly nasty way in which greed rears its head: loans, more specifically, student loans. Other types of debt tend to lay blame on the consumer rather than the lender. However, when it comes to paying for your education, this does not always seem to be the case.

There are many parties at fault.
1) The Schools - Rising tuition costs are a huge concern for anyone attending or planning to attend college. Even amid a crippling recession, prices rise astronomically. College is a prerequisite to the majority of careers and this fact has led to full advantage being taken of broke students and their parents. I'm not implying that it is cheap to provide higher education but care should be taken to ensure that tuition is not excessive.
2) The Lenders - Ah, the artistry of the fine print. Are you kidding me? The title is linked to a story about a doctor with over $500,000 in student loans. While the amount may be unusual, the story is not.
A lot of debt is incurred in order to find a well paying, enjoyable career that sometimes ends up not paying so well. Huge student loan amounts kick in almost immediately after graduation with massive interest rates attached. Even a small personal financial hiccup can lead to getting behind in which case penalties are imposed and before you know what's happening you are traveling in a downward spiral of financial doom.
3) The Students - You're in college, you should know to read the damn fine print!

Now, this issue is multi-faceted and much more complex than a few paragraphs can do justice but I just have to say that SOMETHING must be done. I, myself, am a fan of completely eradicating the monetary system but I will have to write a blog about that another day (soon).

On a personal note, my husband and I have very little debt (thankfully) but the little we have has already shown me how quickly things can get out of control and I know we will proceed with great caution on all future financial decisions because of it.
I chose not to go to college because I did not want to take out student loans. There was literally no college fund for me and though I had some minor scholarship offers it would have never been enough. I would have majored in either English or Journalism…now let's be honest, those fields do not usually yield high paying salaries and I did not want to be stuck with thousands of dollars in loans for the rest of my life. I loved school and I know I would have loved college. However, after seeing the financial mess my mother went through I was not willing to allow my life to become one collection call after another.