Student Loans, and the People Who Fall For Them (Including Me)

Via Suebob’s Linkateria:

In debt before you start: Growing number of college grads owe $100,000 or more for student loans – and face 30 years of payments

Palazzolo, 25, graduated on Mother’s Day from Rutgers University with a master’s degree in public policy and student loans exceeding $116,000. His payments will average about $800 a month. It could have been worse: Because of his top grades, Rutgers paid Palazzolo’s tuition for his final year of graduate school. At a time when his friends are thinking about buying their first homes, he’s looking for roommates to share a three-bedroom house so he can limit his rent to $600 a month. “I feel like I’ve done everything I was supposed to do, and at the end of the day, I’ve got this huge debt,” Palazzolo says. “What did I do wrong?”

Well, you didn’t do any math.

You may be saying “Hey! You had lots and lots of loans, so why are you talking trash about these beleaguered kids?”

Well, the reason I ended up with lots and lots of loans is that I didn’t do any math, and I’m guessing they did exactly the same thing.

Heading for a graduate degree in social work, I had NO IDEA how much I would make with that degree. I had NO IDEA how much that salary would leave me after taxes. And I had NO IDEA how much the monthly payments on my student loans from undergrad were going to be, let alone the additional $18K I borrowed for grad school tuition. Did anyone during the loan process give me a reality check? Of course not. Did my parents raise me with an awareness of the income it took to fund the lifestyle we had? Hell no. Did I think about it for even three seconds and ask? No. I blithely assumed that if “they” were willing to loan me the money, it was fine.

What did these kids think was going to happen with their degrees in social work, public policy, and cinema? Did anyone warn them what would happen? Did they work while they were in school to offset the cost? I don’t know. But my kids are going to know exactly how much it takes to run a household, and they are going to learn about how much various jobs pay. No one is going to protect them once they go off to school, so they’ll have to be prepared to defend themselves.

3 thoughts on “Student Loans, and the People Who Fall For Them (Including Me)

  1. Suebob

    Many parents don’t want to make their children unhappy by crushing their dreams. People don’t want to tell their kid “Uh, Joshua, I am relatively sure you ain’t gonna be the next Spielberg, so why don’t you learn some computer programming?”

    So unfortunately these history and cinema and social work majors get to be 21 or 22 before they realize – hey! I am going to make about $32,000 a year at the best job I can get in this field. I could make more being a PRISON GUARD!

    My school didn’t begin to discuss wages until the senior seminar, 5 years in and too late to change. I know students should do due diligence on their own, but they are so busy and fired up about their majors that it is the last thing they think about. It is really sad.

    The other thing that is sad is that now you need to go to college for what used to be high-school grad jobs.

  2. Grace

    Amen, Princess.

    Would I have done it differently if I knew then what I know now? Maybe, maybe not. But I wish I’d known all the same.

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