Debt: a hefty load for graduates

The average student debt is more than $25,000 for those graduating in 2010, according to a report released early November from the Project on Student Debt at The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS).

In California alone, 48 percent of students graduate with an average debt of $18,113, according to the report.

The economic downturn we are facing encompasses a national 9 percent unemployment rate, according to federal government studies and research.

With no hope or guarantee for a job and a large debt weighing them down, there have been countless stories of even the esteemed Harvard graduate having no other option than to move back in with mom and dad.

However, students don’t ignorantly accrue their debt. They consciously pick the school they attend knowing it is out of their budget.

“The money, it’s out there,” is what my high school counselors seemed to preach. Federal and private loans, especially those that are that are subsidized, are great options. Yet, students become so distracted with finals, freedom and friends that those loans that afford them their college experience don’t just disappear.

Can I afford it? That is one of the most important factors students need to consider when starting to look into attending any higher education institution. I’m not saying attending that dream school with the big unaffordable price tag is wrong.

Junior year of high school, I knew exactly where I wanted to go: American University in Washington D.C. It was my dream school, but the funds to afford the $33,000 in tuition alone were not something I could dream up.

I took the junior college route instead and decided I could bide my time till I could transfer.

American, here I come.

However, somewhere along the way, my gears shifted and my perspective changed. The reality of being in debt without any means to be able to pay it back became a daunting certainty.

No matter how much money I saved in the meantime by attending a public two-year college, I’d still be in debt. I now feel more happy and confident about my decision to attend a local public four-year instead.

I won’t be in debt when out of college, and I will even have some savings when I’m 22.

I finally realize that the ultimate purpose to getting a degree, though such a simple and silly revelation, is so that I can land a desirable job and make those greenbacks.

I wouldn’t want to pay off student loans and forfeit some of my hard-earned income for the next five, 10 or even 20 years of my life.

The solution to the problem of the growing student debt is for students to become familiar with all of their options.

From keeping costs down by attending a local junior college for the first couple of years to making a few compromises along the way.

According to the National Source for Education, the difference in average cost for a public two-year school and public four-year school is at least $6,000.

If the junior college route isn’t for you, even compromising by considering an alternative school with a reasonable price tag seems the wiser decision today.

Graduating from college nowadays entails a depressing countdown till that $20,000 loan becomes unsubsidized, and it’s time to pay up.

Instead, if students made better informed decisions about their college of choice in regards to the cost, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to conclude that there would be less students eager to lump themselves in with the “99 percent.”

They would become the new 1 percent. The 1 percent of students not graduating college without much, if any, debt. A tangible feat truly worthy of a degree.