The Worth of Having Student Loans for a Better Job

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Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Learning is one of the most powerful tools we have in our belt and we can definitely utilize schooling to help further us in our lives. As it can further our careers, it can also further our debt issues. Americans owe over $1.56 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 45 million borrowers. (“Student Loan Debt”) The issue is furthered by the nagging though that there’s no guarantee the graduate will find a job that pays enough to make the acquirement of all their debt worth it in the end. As more and more borrowers become more indebted, people begin to wonder if it’s even worth it to go to school if you’ll just acquire all this debt anyway. Ultimately, Pulling out student loans causes massive debt that doesn’t always pay off with job types, and can affect things like buying a home, saving for retirement, and financial freedom.

The increase in tuition has gone up much more sharply recently, in comparison to many years ago. “The inflation-adjusted cost of attending college in the 2008–09 academic year was approximately three times more than the cost of attending college in 1973–74.” (“College Tuition Costs”) While back in the 70’s parent’s most parents had saved the money to send their children to college now, most middle income students don’t necessarily have that, so the cost of their schooling falls mostly on their own shoulders. This usually means being forced to pull out loans in order to meet the high costs. At Mt. San Jacinto Community College, a single unit for a California Enrollment fee $46. (“What fees do I pay”) When it comes to working towards a bachelors that cost can go up even more. California does offer things like PELL and BOG Waiver but for those who don’t qualify, they must find a way to cover these costs. The average amount of school is around 2 years for an Associate’s degree and 4 years for a bachelor’s degree, not counting if someone had to go into the higher areas of school like masters or a doctorate. In order to sustain and afford college for this long, students have to figure something out, which means either working a job or taking out enough loans to cover it all.

Many students attempt to work alongside their schooling in order to avoid the burden of pulling out school loans. This can be a burden in and of itself as schools are not necessarily made or catered towards students who work a full 40 hour week on top of it. Not to mention, it also pulls out the ability to also try to get the experience that is also necessary to get a good job when they graduate. In order to combat this struggle, schools have begun offering programs all online.

There are even specific schools made for the working student to get their degree in many different programs. These schools target low income and people working full time and encourage that it can be paid for with student loans, which they can then pay off with their great new jobs. The problem comes when not everyone gets that great new job, leaving the graduates stuck with high student loans that they couldn’t even afford to begin with. “According to one federal study, about 25% of for-profit college students end up being unable to repay their loans” (“For Profit Colleges”) This leaves many of these students without options as student loans follow them throughout their career. To default on a student loan is one of the worst things you can do to your credit. But much of these students are left without options, when loan repayment can be upwards of $300-400.

As a result of this, many graduates work whatever jobs they can just to work towards paying their bills. Making it almost impossible to even consider anything other than survival. This has resulted in less people being able to afford buying a home. Home buying has been put on the back burner of people’s minds as they work their everyday jobs. The security that a home can bring has almost become an elusive notion and thought as more young people choose to rent and to live wherever they can rightly afford.

Furthermore, as our society moves into a different phase, we’ve come to realize that the American dream of getting married, having 2.5 children and buying a home with a white picket fence in the front yard has become a distant memory. Where parents of yesteryear were settling in and beginning to create the security they needed to support a family, most are indebted enough that they couldn’t even consider this. The grouping of people born before the 1980’s had homeownership at 48.3%. For the generation born after 1980, Home ownership is at a stark difference of 35.8%. Student loan debt can be a huge contribution to pushing this off, in order to gather more of a stable footing and feel more comfortable committing to something as huge as owning a home.

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In similar regards, young people are not able to put into a retirement. The fear of the future becomes a real threat when they have no clear road for how they will live out the rest of their lives when they retire. This situation has never been faced before but we are starting to see the fruits of this unfortunate quandary as many people over 60 have more student debt than we’ve ever seen before. The question does come when people begin to wonder how this will affect the future of our society if people are not prepared to pay for their own way of life in their older age.

Furthermore, as many students work towards getting the job that will help push them towards the path of happiness, they also look towards a job that will help them to live the lives they want to. No student goes to school, hoping to just make minimum wage and in fact most wouldn’t even be going to school if they knew all they would be making is minimum wage. As of January 2019, the minimum wage in California has soared up to $12. A huge leap considering not too long ago it used to be $7-8. But as much as this seems like a good and decent amount to live on in other states, in California it would be barely surviving. At 40 hours a week, it equals out to $480 a month, which for most in the area, would not even cover a months’ worth of rent. This means as the mid line of surviving goes up, so does the need to get a high paying job.

At the top of most of these lists are things like doctor, anesthesiologist, and lawyer. These jobs have long been at the top and are known for having a huge payoff, but for jobs that don’t quite equal out, one does have to wonder if it’s worth it to even go to school? Interestingly enough however the final tuition cost for an orthodontist is $261,458 and the normal salary is 208,000. While these high schooling jobs are projected to make over $200,000 a year there are some jobs available without a bachelors, where the projected income is around $55,000.

Moreover, According to The Job Network, There are projected to be a lot of jobs on the horizon that won’t necessarily require a degree and “workers with associate’s degrees or high school diplomas have potential careers to consider that come with a median salary of $55,000!” (35 high paying degrees) Interestingly, IT jobs have pushed their way to the forefront of both the areas making the most money both with a degree and without. With our culture becoming increasingly more electronic, IT jobs have become now needed more than ever. This is not to discourage the student from completing a degree, but should encourage the student to figure out what career path they genuinely desire and figure out the best way to get there.

With a higher cost of school, comes the obvious cost of student loans and the necessity to pull them out. Whether it’s done because the student is low income or the program is high income, a majority of students will be forced to pull out student loans to bridge the gap and complete their schooling. The alternative to student loans would be to work a job, the problem with working a job and going to school is that schools are not set up to cater to student’s working 40 hours a week, and most classes needed will be found in the early morning and if the student can’t get to that class, they miss out. Fortunately, there are also some other options if people are attempting to find alternative ways.

The old standard way of attempting to pay for school on means other than student loans would be to work towards getting a grant or a scholarship. Work study program is offered through most schools and helps keep costs down while being able to work around school times, with much more understanding for needing to be in class. If someone has been in the military, their options are more open in getting school paid for without having to go towards borrowing. Things like the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 Bill actually pay the school directly as well as give a stipend for both books as well as housing to the student themselves.. There are also scholarships directly targeted towards different career paths and both college and high schools students can take advantage of these. These scholarships can be earned through getting good grades or can be earned by being involved in activities outside of school but furthering a different cause.

With the recent college scandal involving celebrities like Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, many students can feel like the deck is stacked against them if they or their associations don’t have millions of dollars dedicated to getting their child into the right school. We’ve seen for years that with wealth comes privilege and often times when looking from the outside it can feel discouraging that some people just get things handed to them and others have to work hard and become indebted. Jimmy Sengenberge Contends that Elizabeth Warrens idea to completely erase all student debt isn’t the answer to our trillion dollar problem. In fact, he suggests pushing forward more options like the Student Loan Repayment Acceleration Act which “introduced a bill to let employers and employees together contribute up to $10,000 annually tax-free to a 401k-style account for student loan repayment.” (“Dear Elizabeth Warren”)

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