I’m Drowing in Student Loan Debt

The Rising Cost of Higher Education

It’s no secret that a college education isn’t cheap. With an average rate of $7,605 per semester for in-state tuition and fees alone, it sometimes seems like a taking out a loan is the only option for students to finish their degree. As a student at Texas A&M University, a moderately-priced state school, I can personally vouch for the crippling nature of student loan debt.

The problem with student loan debt is that much of it is applied to many more costs than tuition alone. Each semester, I spend around $10,000 to attend Texas A&M – and those living on-campus easily drop more. After my annual tuition bill and fees, I am obligated to pay for textbooks, which can easily run into the $500’s; rent and utilities, which usually costs me around $2,000 to $3,000 a semester; and all other bi-monthly expenditures such as my phone bill, groceries, insurance, car, and gas costs. And I attend a relatively low priced school in a decent housing market!

Taking out loans to pay for day-to-day expenditures, as many students are forced to do, is what really costs college kids a fortune in debt. With accumulating interest on loans and often virtually no way to save money while in college, a $2500 rent fee per semester can easily grow into a $4 or $5k expenditure; a $50 grocery bill can soon become a $300 repayment in the future. Young professionals and recent graduates might easily crumble under interest rates and find themselves in much worse financial situations than they were in college. In today’s unstable economy, these cash-strapped baccalaureates find themselves trapped again and again in a vicious cycle of debt.

Even in the best of economic situations, taking a student loan out to attend college is a precarious (although sometimes necessary) decision. I am one of the most money-savvy students I know (I once spent three months without toilet paper – using tissues to save on wiping costs!) I still face a flat repayment fee of over $20k when I graduate – without interest. The hard truth is that many majors and professions (mine included) simply will not pay enough to get the bills paid off in time, drowning recent graduates in a bottomless ocean of debt. If I follow my dream to become an English professor — going to grad school to earn my doctorate rather than immediately entering the job market – I could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in loan costs, a bill that my projected first-year pay of around $30k couldn’t hope to begin to cover.

Though society reams those who don’t attend college, the crippling nature of loan debt almost makes me reconsider my dream of becoming a professor and opt out for a cheaper, better-paying field. With college costs climbing every year, it doesn’t look like there is much financial hope in the future for those pursuing higher education – in the light of the current nature of student loans, I advise everyone to hold on to their toilet paper.