The war on student loan debt

December 11th, 2014


I’m currently on the search for a box. You know, to live in after graduation. It’s rent-free. My biggest fear at the moment is that it won’t be waterproof. I have to plan ahead with this crazy Cleveland weather and all.


I’m also going to have to make friends with someone with a microwave so I can heat up my Ramen Noodles. Please contact me if you’re willing to help an editor out.


I only kid.


However, nearly every graduating college senior faces a harsh reality after he/she is thrown out head first into the “real world.” Dare I even say the dreaded phrase? All right, I will: paying off student debt.


There, I said it. I apologize if that sent a shiver down your spine.


It’s something we’re constantly bombarded with in the news. Yet, what’s actually being done?


The cost of attending college rises each year. Many families’ incomes remain the same.


Our generation lives in a world full of unpaid internships, hidden fees tacked on to almost everything and anything (don’t worry – I’m not charging you to read this column), meager entry-level salaries and overpriced burritos (Chipotle is my weakness).


However, I don’t have that much room to complain. Luckily, my parents are saints. After I walk across the Quad in my cap and gown, they’ve promised (at least I think) to not drop me off in the middle of Warrensville with a waterproof box and a starter-supply of Ramen Noodles. Instead, they’re giving me a roof over my head rent-free for however long it takes for me to become established (thanks, Mom and Dad).


Yes, I’ll admit it – I’m spoiled.


Some graduates aren’t as lucky. Some have to pay rent. Some can’t rely on their families for one reason or another. Some will throw even more money into graduate, medical or law school. Some will even move to big cities where the cost of living is obscene.


And this should happen. Why? Because we’re 22 years old, gosh darn it. We’ve worked our derrières off over the last four years. We have our degrees. Now, it’s time to go forth and set the world on fire – by throwing our student loan statements into a fire pit (I volunteer to host the shindig).


So, for some, the whole possibility of chasing after their dreams is just not financially realistic.


According to the U.S. News & World Report, the average student loan debt from the class of 2013 hovers around $30,000. Scary, right?


Reuters stated earlier this month that a recent survey by Northeastern University shows that 16 to 19 year olds are so scared of student debt, they’re avoiding attending four-year colleges all together.


But we have a right to finance our education, right?


True, there are scholarship opportunities with no-strings attached. True, these scholarships add up. However, college tuition nationwide has skyrocketed to the point that it’s nearly impossible to avoid signing off on a loan.


If you’ve figured out how to avoid this completely, let me know.


Earlier this year, 50 colleges, nationwide pledged to cut student loans. The University of Chicago announced back in the fall that it would replace student loans with need-based grants beginning in the next academic year.


The grants will be funded through a campaign which hopes to raise $4.5 billion by 2019.


I’m optimistic that John Carroll University will eventually do the same. I applaud the fact that the Forever Carroll Campaign partially focuses on creating grants and scholarships for students who need the extra help.


However, this is an issue that needs more attention, action and commitment to finding a universal solution.


Both federal and state action needs to be taken now – without any loopholes or hidden agendas.


After all, we have a right to an education.


That one student in your sociology class could be a future senator, the next Katie Couric or the modern-day Marie Curie. Yet, they may not be able to chase  after their dreams because they can’t keep up with rent, car payments and $30,000 worth of student loan debt.


Because of purely financial reasons, the world might be missing out. Just think about that.