College Degree — ‘An Empty Cliff’

April 23, 2012

Last week, a regular customer and I got into a short discussion during check-out on the subject of college debt — she told me she was having trouble paying off just $4,000 in loan obligations.

“It’s a pain in the ass,” she said, but agreed her total was nowhere the average for today’s young people just graduating — generally now estimated to be $25,000, a 25 percent increase in just the last decade.

Party time is way-way over.

(Illustration found here).

Although the customer doesn’t appear to use her college degree — she and here husband operate a tire business — the debt incurred getting that education is still due no matter the after effects.
And she’s among the more fortunate ones.
Via Raw Story: Two years ago, for the first time, total outstanding student debt in the United States topped $1 trillion, according to the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.
And it be a portend to another financial disaster.
William Brewer, president of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys:

“Take it from those of us on the front line of economic distress in America: this could very well be the next debt bomb for the US economy.
“The reason: Students and workers seeking retraining are borrowing extraordinary amounts of money through federal and private loan programs to help cover the rising cost of college and training,” he added.
“In many cases, parents responsible for the student loans are in or near retirement years and facing repayment demands.”

That latter subject bad as in real-bad.

President Obama, in his weekly video address this weekend also noted the horror of higher education: “For the first time, Americans owe more debt on their student loans than they do on their credit cards.”
No shit, Mr. Sherlock.

In the face of a rate increase coming this July in the so-called Stafford loans for college — from 3.4 percent up to 6.8 percent — Obama is pushing to delay that move, but faces (of course) obstacles from the GOP.
One talked through her asshole (is it sexist to term a female such a way?), Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) noted earlier this month: I went through school, I worked my way through, it took me seven years, I never borrowed a dime of money. He borrowed a little bit because we both were totally on our own when we went to college, totally. […] I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there’s no reason for that.
As it turns out, Ms Foxx has snagged nearly $50,000 in campaign donations from the for-profit education industry — nice touch.
And these for-profit colleges are bullshit — a new bill introduced in the Senate last week will target these organizations use of federal funds in advertising.

And on top of all that debt, there’s not much bang for the buck.
The real world is not welcoming place.
From HuffPost:

Taking underemployment into consideration, the job prospects for bachelor’s degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade.

About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years.
In 2000, the share was at a low of 41 percent, before the dot-com bust erased job gains for college graduates in the telecommunications and IT fields.
Out of the 1.5 million who languished in the job market, about half were underemployed, an increase from the previous year.
Broken down by occupation, young college graduates were heavily represented in jobs that require a high school diploma or less.

That future may be now for Kelman Edwards Jr., 24, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., who is waiting to see the returns on his college education.

“I thought that me having a biology degree was a gold ticket for me getting into places, but every other job wants you to have previous history in the field,” he said.
Edwards, who has about $5,500 in student debt, recently met with a career counselor at Middle Tennessee State University.
The counselor’s main advice: Pursue further education.
“Everyone is always telling you, `Go to college,'” Edwards said.
“But when you graduate, it’s kind of an empty cliff.”

I attended the University of Florida, graduating in 1974 — although I couldn’t find the exact figures online, if memory serves correctly, it cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of about $160 a quarter as a full-time student.
And with the GI Bill plus a part-time job at Sears, I had a real good time.
But that was a different kind of time back then — cheaper and not so shitty-dangerous for cliff dwellers.

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