It’s becoming more and more common for young adults graduating from college or other higher education programs to end their educational career with high amounts of debt. But how much is too much when it comes to student loan debt? At what point is the debt load that students are taking on too much to shoulder?
Recent reports indicate that the total outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. exceeds $1.4 trillion. 2016 graduates owe a record-breaking $37,172 on average in student loans when they leave school For many graduates who are just starting out, their ability to pay these loans back is limited or even prevented by their earning potential. The job market for recent graduates isn’t perfect, and not all graduates are able to find employment right away. Additionally, many young adults leaving school are ready to get married and start families – which further limits their ability to pay back high amounts of debt.
Looking back at my own experience with student loans, I have regrets. I chose a more expensive private school instead of a cheaper state school, which resulted in more tuition to cover with loans. When I left college, I was only able to find a part-time position, making a low wage and working fewer than 30 hours per week. After a year, I decided to move back in with my parents to save money so I could start paying back my student loans, which I had deferred them while I was not working full-time.
Soon after I started paying on my student loans, I got married and within a year was expecting my first child. Following the birth of my son, I went back to work part-time to save on the cost of child-care, and could no longer afford my student loan payments. This cycle continued for a number of years while we had another baby, adopted two more children, and experienced several moves and job changes/losses. Each time I inquired, my student loan company was happy to grant me a deferment on my account, but the interest continued to accrue. By the time I had been out of college for 12 years, the amount I owed on my student loans had increased by nearly $10,000 due to interest.
I am paying off my student loan debt now, and have been for years, but they are in an extended payment plan to keep the payments manageable. Under these circumstances, it is likely that I will be paying on my student loans until long after my own children have graduated from college. That’s a sobering thought.
I suspect that my story isn’t all that uncommon for young adults coming out of college, or for middle aged parents raising teens who are about to enter college themselves. There aren’t any easy answers, but the burden of student loans is a harsh reality for many American families.
Education about student debt seems to be more important than ever. For those who are struggling to manage their student loan debt, many are looking to experts to walk them through the process of sorting through the options they have available. Student loan counseling can help make sense of all the confusing options and help you chart a clear path towards successful repayment.
The team at CESI is committed to helping you make wise financial decisions and to helping you understand how to handle your student loan debt. Contact us and find out how we can help.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.
CESI is NOT A LOAN COMPANY