The Catch-22 of student debt

by Robert McDonald

The 2020 Democratic primary has brought a major concern among students into the national spotlight. The issue of student debt has become a crisis, and with tensions between parties increasing, the crisis appears to be worsening. The Federal Reserve reported that student debt in the second quarter of 2019 surpassed 1.6 trillion dollars. In 2018, 44.7 million students and alumni had taken out student loans from private institutions and federal programs. With cost of living and tuition increasing faster than wages, students will be forced further into debt to pursue higher education.

Students at this institution are not exempt from this crisis. In an interview with CI alumna Samantha Alvarado, she said, “I thought $50,000 was not a lot of debt, but my payments are $530 a month, which is slightly more than my car payment and insurance combined.” If her payments are to continue at their current level for the next 10 years, she will pay an estimated $63,600 at the end of her 10-year loan payment plan. Include payments for rent and basic needs, and student debt makes saving money a luxury.

Debt from student loans impacts students long after college. Loans impact our ability to get a mortgage and a car as well as their credit scores. This issue affects all segments of American society. In July 2019, the AARP reported that 6.3 million senior citizens have student debt, with 29% of borrowers defaulting on loan payments. As students, it is important to realize that debt can follow us to the grave. 

In Georgetown University’s “Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements”, they reported that 65% of new jobs in the United States will require some form of higher education by 2020. Current trends in the American economy show that the need for a college education is becoming more important than ever before. However, with many students assuming unmanageable debt to pursue higher education, college is becoming a Catch-22 for many students. However, students have a powerful political voice that can bring this issue to the forefront of the legislative agenda, but this requires students to pressure their representatives no matter their party affiliation

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