According to US News, 70% of recent college students graduate with student loans. Student loan expert, Mark Kantrowitz, estimates the average 2016 grad to hold $37,172 in student loans. A recent survey found that 59% of millennial graduates have no idea when their student loans will be paid off. If those stats aren’t enough to make you say “WTF”, let’s add to it that there are 44 million borrowers in the United States alone with a total debt approximated at $1.4 TRILLION! Unfortunately, I am one of these 44 million borrowers and despite the efforts President Obama made to help reduce the burden imposed by student loans, I believe there is some ugly truth about student loan debt we all want to shout from the rooftops.

Hate your student loans? Validate your feelings w/ today's post about the truth about student loan debt.

Considering the fact that around 15% of the US population has student loans, I think it’s time we consider this a crisis. An alarming number of borrowers have defaulted on their loans (i.e. they aren’t paying them) and are then being slapped with late fees, dings to their credit, and overall mental distress. Borrowers are often unable to buy cars or homes as the student loans often increase their debt-to-income, making them unsuitable borrowers in the eyes of lenders. It is my opinion that this creates a “damned if I do, damned if don’t” cycle, in which one feels as though they are making student loan payments, only to still not be able to afford the things you’re supposed to get to enjoy in adulthood.

I will admit, I feel as though student loan companies have started to make efforts to help students. Depending on the type of loan and your standing, you may be eligible for numerous programs that will reduce your monthly payments or have your loans forgiven altogether (more on this topic Thursday). However, I feel that the companies do a bad job of considering how much you owe to other creditors. For example, each of my four loan providers believing I can afford to pay them $200/month, means $800/month total and I can’t afford that. In my opinion, it would make a lot more sense if they considered what you owe (and subsequently pay) other loan providers.

Student loans are crippling millennials and stifling their attempts to step into adulthood. Borrowers are often forced to live like college co-eds (I still love Ramen Noodles) because they simply can’t afford healthy groceries or eating out. While I personally try to pay all of my loans on time and maintain lines of communication with my loan provides, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t contemplated (multiple times) writing them an IOU and spending that money elsewhere. Though it may be irresponsible in the long run, I totally understand why my fellow millennials sometimes throw caution to the wind.

The truth of the matter is depending on how much you owe, you could easily still be paying on your student loans when it’s time for your kids to head off to college. How in the world am I supposed to save for their college tuition when I’m still paying for my own???

It is AWESOME that states and institutions are starting to make moves to provide FREE college education. I believe this will result in more applicants and attendees than these schools can support so it’s somewhat only a band aid to the problem. I wholeheartedly believe their should be some kind of federal regulation or morality clause (OR SOMETHING) that puts a cap on what private institutions can charge. The cost of education is just too darn high, especially when millennials are graduating and can’t even find a job in their field!

If you’re one of the 44 million borrowers in the US or even have loans from obtaining your education in another country, I want you to remember, you’re not alone. You’re not the only one imagining all the other things you could be spending that hard earned money on or the only one seriously contemplating no paying the loans altogether. I HATE paying my student loans, but I do it because I hope that one day I will find a job in my field, that I love, that will be worth the exorbitant cost of my education.

Do you have any student loans? What’s one thing you wish you could tell your senior high school self regarding student loans?

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17 comments on “The Ugly Truth About Student Loan Debt”

  1. I’m so fortunate that I finished both my college education and my Masters education without being in debt. I do feel though that, now with a husband in medical school, we’re having to be more conscious of our spending and budgeting.

  2. I think the bigger issue that each person needs to consider is whether college is a good investment for them or not. I would tell my high school self to look at the college I want to attend and see what people are making in my field after graduating from that particular institution. A little research will go a long way to understanding whether your college choice is a good one.

  3. I can’t understand.. People are paying high taxes and yet it cant fund the education for its own people? That’s a huge stress a student can bear.

  4. Life’s too stressed for younglings popping out of the college these days, they have to manage out a lot of things. I can connect because have my friends working on their masters on loan and they share their situation.

  5. Yes student loans are definitely the downside of college. I have six-figure student loan debt but hopefully through the student loan forgiveness program I will be able to avoid most of that by working in the field of my degree and making payments for 10 years. Considering the state of education in our country we really should work towards making College more affordable for everyone.

  6. Honestly, the whole college experience did not seem worth it to me. I was paying way too much money living on campus and did not see the benefit in it. I worked two part-time jobs while doing so and had just enough money to get by. I’ve switched to online classes now and things are WAY cheaper. I’m a lot happier now.

  7. There is so many different things I would like to tell myself before I got into this kind of debt. The problem is, I am not sure I could have known or would have believed all of the different things that would have put me in the situation I am now. Ah well.

  8. Wow I didn’t realize how much debt students were paying off. Nyc has finally given students free college and it is one of the most amazing thing ever! I’m finally going back to school to finish my degree!

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