So I’m here to ask all my fellow recent graduates and current students a student loan question and to address a large concern I have with Student Loan Debt.
As a student riddled with impossible levels of loan debt ($250,000+) primarily from graduate school (I was an academic scholarship student in undergrad), I am highly interested in the recent debates about Student Loans.
I of course support the side that argues that bad things went down in the student loan industry. For one thing, college students are a notoriously vulnerable group going into school. They aren’t educated on loans, interest, or the possible consequences of what is happening. Most of them have never heard of interest or credit scores – much less comprehend the true devastation that they are agreeing to. Given the massive impact student loans have on these people’s lives, I feel like a lot more education and awareness is required.
Some of these people are only just 18 – right out of high school. Maybe only just legal for sex and still not legal to drink. But we let them sign away tens of thousands of dollars without much education on the issue at all. You take the time to teach these people about condoms – have them practice with plastic baby dolls, but provide very little information about the practical consequences of having a student loan.
Oh! We make them do entrance and exit counseling – seriously?!? Since when has a young kid/young adult paid attention to those sorts of forms? It’s all academic anyway – yes I know I have to pay this money back some day. “But don’t worry- there’s no payment necessary while you’re still in college!” And I’m sure you’ll have a great job as soon as you get out. 🙂
It just seems like deceitful practices to me – taking advantage of a known vulnerable group without giving them much needed, in-depth, real world advice on the consequences of what they are agreeing to.
But all of that is neither here nor there for the moment. My real issue in this article is the STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES. Yep, I’m getting real sick of hearing people say “those students are just lazy.” “They borrowed the money and now they don’t want to pay it back.” “If you didn’t want to pay the loan back, you shouldn’t have taken it.” “Students today just take, take, take but don’t want to do the work to give it back.” “They shouldn’t have gotten that worthless humanities or social science degree.” I’ve heard it all and more. But for your information, it isn’t the principal I’m most upset about. It’s the stupidly high interest rates I’m facing.
Think about it –
Bank of America is offering Auto Loans at 2-3% interest. Other companies are maybe as high as 4%, but that’s still pretty low. The current Mortgage Interest Rate is 3.64% and actually fell to record lows this year with some as low as 3%.
But do you know the lowest Interest Rate I have on my student loans? – 4.5% and that’s on only ONE loan out of more than 20 that I accumulated throughout college. By far, the majority of my loans are between 6.8% and 8.5% with most falling at 7.9% interest. And that does not include my Signature Student Loan with a 12.38% interest rate and the Bar Study Loan at 13.65%.
Yep, that’s right. You’re asking grown adults with solid jobs and a steady income to pay between half to a fourth as much interest as young students right out of college trying to establish their lives and futures. Many of these students aren’t in the position to work with this! They are starting at the bottom end of the totem pole in regards to their jobs, with a minimum of 2-5 years of experience required before anything substantial comes along. But during that time, their debt has grown extensively. There is no way to get their heads above water! I’m paying more than $200 on one loan a month (the minimum payment) and it isn’t making a dent because of the interest I’m trying to cover.
And people expect the economy to improve like this? Economic growth depends upon buying and selling. The less people buy, the less the sellers make. The less the seller make, the less they buy. The less they buy, the less the other sellers make. The less the businesses make, the less they pay their employees. The less they pay their employees, the less they buy and the cycle continues. But students saddled with this much debt and high interest rates are NOT BUYING. We can’t afford to buy. Sure, our loans are set a 20-30yr pay back plans. But because of the interest rates, we can’t put off payments. There isn’t any money left over to buy a house. No money to pay for a wedding. No extra cash for eating out or a nice dress or shopping at the mall. Christmas? Just give me cash for my loans.
And thanks to the current “education-focused” economy we have going here – there is an entire generation of 18-30 year olds who fall into this category with around 70% of all high school graduates enrolling in college. And 70% of students graduating with a Bachelor’s degree are in debt with almost $1,300,000,000,000 owed among approximately 44 million young adults. Furthermore, each student is 6% more in debt this year than last year, and it just keeps going up. According to reports, many of these students (as much as 40%) are delinquent or not paying their accounts at all. So all that interest is racking up at 6-13% a pop (a lot of people have the signature student loans, the worst). 40% of this debt comes from graduate students. GRADUATE STUDENTS! These are your doctors, lawyers, government officials, future professors, accountants, psychologists. And they can’t even open up shop because of their student loan payments. A large part of which isn’t the principal at all – it’s the interest.
Do you know who decides most of these rates? – It’s all in that nice print on my Navient page:
“Interest rates on federal student loans are set by Congress.”
Good old Congress. Those people who keep voting themselves raises, who avoid taxes like the plague and bailed out major income-generating banks – but want to charge the youth outrageous, usurious fees for going to college. For educating themselves and trying to make their world a better place. Who actually studied in High School and wanted to make something of their lives. Who are going into jobs that contribute to a nation, government, and economy that won’t give them a fair shake. I’m not asking that you let me skip out on my loans. I’m asking that you give me a chance to pay my loans without facing exorbitant additional interest that don’t even let me see the loan itself.
Here’s a list of the Interest Rates I have on my loans:
- 13.625% on the Bar Study Student Loan.
- 12.385% on the Signature Student Loan.
- 6.8% on the Stafford Unsubsidized Loans
- 5.6-6.8% (most at 6.8%) on the Stafford Subsidized Loans
- 4.5%-6.8% (most at 6.8%) Direct Loans – Subsidized
- 5.4%-6.8% (most at 6.8%) Direct Loans – Unsubsidized
- 8.5% Parent Plus Loan
- 8.5% Graduate Plus Loan
- 7.9-8.5% Direct Grad Plus Loans
Now here’s my question for my fellow students and graduates – what’s your interest rate??? Share below!