Things I’m Not Thankful for: Student Debt

The Occidental

Erin Spicer, Staff Writer

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think debt is one of the most stressful things about being a student in the United States. I have had so many conversations with friends and classmates about the stress revolving around student debt that the mention of it causes me anxiety. I understand that in order for academic institutions to function they need money to pay salaries and maintain facilities, however I don’t believe that students should be burdened with thousands of dollars of debt to pay for it. 

At this moment, about 44 million people in the United States collectively owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loans. Recent graduates have reported owing up to $100,000 each upon graduating. Four out of five professionals with student loan debt have reported it as being a significant stressor in their lives. I personally know students who frequently question and regret their decision to attend school, specifically for financial reasons. There is so much stress that comes with student loans and debt varying from what kind of payment plan you choose, long-term or short-term, standard payments or incremental increasing payments, etc. There is no way to fully measure the level of anxiety that is placed on students as young as 18 when they are forced to make decisions that can have long-term financial consequences. 

Thousands of Americans who are in debt because of student loans have spoken out about this. They described how much pressure they feel having to take a significant amount of their paychecks to pay back their student loans. Some people have been forced to reconsider the kinds of foods they buy to purchase cheaper options, opting not to go out to eat with friends, or even choosing not to date because of the added expense. (I personally do not have student debt and feel very fortunate, but after being educated about it by my friends and peers I am amazed at the impact student loans can have on someone’s life.) 

Most people are taught in primary and secondary school that in order to get a high-paying job in America you have to go to college and get a degree. While I disagree and believe that everyone is capable of succeeding in their own way, I think this is at the forefront of most young adults’ minds. We are told that the more education we receive and the higher the degree we have, the more money we will make. What most people don’t talk about it how much money you have to spend in order to get that degree. Then, you have to consider whether or not you can make financial decisions such as buying a house or getting married, until you pay off your debt. 

There are some government funded student loan forgiveness programs which can help get rid of debt, however I think the system in general needs major reform. I simply don’t understand how we can ever expect our society to thrive and promote healthy lifestyles if more than half the country is burdened with crushing debt. 

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