Friday, November 27, 2015


Go to college, collect student loan debt

Despite UH’s efforts to reduce debt, students still struggle. | Hendrick Rosemond/The Daily Cougar

The graduating class of 2015 is set to be the most indebted in history as student loan debt is roughly $1.2 trillion. | File Photo/The Cougar

Students may be overjoyed to have graduated this year, but most people aren’t talking about the massive amounts of money graduates will have to pay back for what is essentially a piece of paper that says ‘life achievement.’

Total student loan debt in the U.S. currently stands at $1.2 trillion. Seventy percent of college students graduate with debt, and the graduating class of 2015 is now officially the most indebted in history.

It also doesn’t help that college tuition has tripled in the past three decades. $35,000 is the average debt amount, but some students are paying off over $100,000 if they go to graduate school.

And people make jokes about college grads living in their parent’s basements.

This is crazy. Only a few senators, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, seem to give a damn.

As the 2016 presidential election race begins, it’s surprising that more candidates are not taking up the issue, even to at least attempt to get the youth vote.

“This coming presidential election I am voting for whoever makes student loan debt their main issue,” said Meredith Richey, who recently obtained her master’s degree from Baylor University and is still paying of her student loan debt.

But politicians may refuse to discuss the issue simply because the solution might include the ultimate swear word: taxes.

Sanders’ proposal for free public colleges includes taxing Wall Street transactions.

If the American taxpayers can bailout Wall Street, surely these taxes should be seen as simply reinvesting in the youth, America’s future.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has also been fighting to pass a student loan refinancing bill that tackles high interest rates, but she and her Democratic colleagues have been blocked by Republicans every time.

Anyone who says that the government can’t afford student debt relief needs to be reminded that the F-35 fighter plane, which will cost the government $1.5 trillion over 55 years, exists. Selling one of those could theoretically take care of this $1.2 trillion student debt bubble.

“Because I pay so much, my cost of living goes way down,” said Richey. “I pay less for rent than I do my monthly loan payments.

“It’s made me so broke that I can’t do anything. I can do basic stuff, but you shouldn’t have to live like that.”

If parents aren’t helping their children with these payments, being slammed with this amount of debt right out of college is an intense ordeal.

If someone is paying $600 a month and they’re living paycheck to paycheck, that makes things complicated.

This means occasionally not being able to afford groceries or maintain a healthy diet in general. If any sudden expenses arise such as car trouble or a medical emergency, there might be months where a person has to go hungry.

Richey works three jobs, one being as an adjunct professor at Houston Baptist University. That seems like a lot of work for a qualified individual to do simply to survive.

“(Everyone) is in debt, but no one wants to talk about it because it’s embarrassing,” she said.

This state of embarrassment and struggle is not unique. Most adults have debt in their lives.

But it shouldn’t have to be the first thing to worry about when graduating from college. It almost devalues graduates’ status as a human being.

Loan distributors should just send a letter to graduates saying ‘congratulations on four years of work, stress and no sleep, now get ready to pay us monthly payments for the rest of your life!’

This will continue to get worse unless something is done about it. More and more people are going to college, so it’s only a matter of time before this problem becomes an epidemic.

Education, and the betterment of this country through individual success, shouldn’t be the source of a national crisis.

CORRECTION: The original post said that the F-35 fighter plane cost $1.5 trillion. This has been clarified to say that the F-35 fighter plane will cost $1.5 trillion over 55 years.

Opinion columnist Anthony Torres is a political science junior and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com

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  • Aidan Bynum

    The F35 PROGRAM will cost 1.5 trillion for hundreds of aircraft and decades of maintance support. Everyone loves to bash defense spending and cut programs but Defense spending is as important as Health and Education. Also the true major expense of the DoD is not hardware but personnel. Most of our modern technology and economy is based directly off Defense research.

  • ftf123

    Average monthly costs:
    student loan $280 for 10 years
    electric bill $107 forever
    smartphone $148 forever
    new car $482 for 6 years
    house $1,061 for 30 years
    They won’t stop at free college.
    I wanna free house, free electricity, free phone, free car….

    • Mark Mathias

      Wow, a little agitated are we? I don’t have to worry about debt because I served in the military for 6 years but you have to wonder why we put such a high price on education when it is deemed necessary for most any career that pays above the poverty line. I’m going to turn 31 in August, live in my own home and have my car paid off. My phone bill is $45/mo and I’m not sure what you’re using as the basis for the house payment. On one hand, that seems high for a simple P&I payment, but it’s really low if you’re including insurance, taxes, etc.
      Also, that’s a pretty lame ‘slippery slope’ argument you’re using. I find that people who have had to work hard and earn what they have in life do not expect to get things for free, while those that go through life easily from the start expect that everything will stay that way. You mention nothing about for profit schools that actively seek to rip people off and bury them in debt.
      Also, people such as yourself mention that free school just means people will hang out and waste taxpayer dollars while achieving nothing. Why is it so hard to imagine controls will be in place to ensure people are actively pursuing their degree? My VA benefits are for a limited time, based on my service time and enrolled credit hours, and I can only receive compensation for classes listed on my degree plan. If I want to slack off, it’s on my bill and no one else.

  • anaraBay21m

    True, education is a luxury these days. Often students do not get that they are about to spend a lot if not create a massive debt. And the worst part is that everyone thinks that college education is one true way to succeed in life. It is not and not everyone was born to study there. Often young people take loans and party for several years there. I would recommend them reading this article and learning about academic essay writing. They surely can learn a lot more at home if they actually put an effort.

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