I just read a Yahoo! News story about student loan debt. I'm a bit torn about the whole thing. The girl in the story is 23 and spent $200k to earn a sociology degree. Hers aren't all federal loans either - they're private and subject to a balloon payment, which as of Nov 2010 jumped from less than $900/mo to $1600/mo. That's like having a second mortgage. Part of the agrument featured in the article is that everyone believes a higher education is the gateway to a successful economic future...when these days it's more of a gateway to a lifetime of debt.
I come from a family where higher education is valued, coveted, and expected. I have a bachelor's degree. I make less now than I did 3 years ago and am lucky to have a job. My husband, who is a high school drop out and a freelance photographer (in case you haven't visited the link and know this already) makes anywhere between 6-10x what I make an hour. Someone please explain to me where I went astray.
At the bottom of the article many people left comments: some are in the same or an equally sinking boat, others are...haters, for lack of a better term. They think she should have taken a different path, or chosen a different school, that she was a sucker for a supposedly 'big reputation' university, etc. I think they're projecting their own feelings of being a sucker on someone else. Everyone still thinks they're somehow 'less' if they don't have a college degree. It's still the big dream, and reality usually doesn't come into play - and perhaps shouldn't - when planning the rest of your life. Personally I'd like to know why the cost of education is going up, yet the quality and weight of that education is going down. My bachelor's means just as much as my mom's from 1970 (or thereabouts). I guarantee she didn't pay as much as I am.
So I'm torn. I would never borrow that much for education - in fact, wasn't supposed to borrow any - but that's beef between me and Mom. But my Mom is in the same boat - you can't do much with an archeolody degree unless you get a doctorate - she's not using a hard earned education. Expensive school doesn't equal more valuable education. I'm trying to tell a good friend of mine that - he's going to be attending the school I went to, paying private school rates, and racking up hugh loans...basically for the same education I got, one I'm not technically working in because it's flat. So follow the dream? Yes. Get student loans? Not unless you have no other option, not just it's the easy option. And what to do now, for us poor souls who owe hugh sums of money we cannot pay? Support each other. Don't hate. I know it sucks - I'm there. Pay as much as you can while you're working/in school. Owe as little as possible when you get out.
Other than that? If I had that answer, I'd write an e-book and be living the good life. :)