By Shannon Miekka
Graduation is thirty weeks away. Caps will fly, families will beam with pride, and of course, everyone’s favorite reason to celebrate- it’s the first day of your six-month student loan grace period. The total amount of student loan debt in the U.S. is $1.4 trillion, a value most students grossly underestimate.
According to Experian, consumers of graduating age (22) have an average student loan debt of $13,280. By age 23, the balance goes up by five thousand dollars. Once a consumer has a steady paying job and the initial amount seems less daunting, the balance has already doubled by age 27 and nearly tripled by age 30.
Members of the CUA Class of 2020 understandably feel that the impending student loan debt takes away from the excitement of graduating. Some students take out loans without knowing the exact interest rate and future payout.
“I feel like I’m educated on the options now, thanks to my own outside research, but not necessarily from any help from the school,” said Katarina Ivancik, a senior studying English and Pre-Law.
Many students feel in over their heads now that graduation is approaching and real-life begins soon. Some plan on lessening the burden of loans by attending graduate, law, or medical school with hopes of getting a higher-paying job in the future. Some view the extended loan grace period gained by pursuing another degree as worth it. Others feel as if working during and after college is the best solution.
“As a freshman, I definitely didn’t know what I was getting into,” said senior psychology major Hayley Abernethy. “The best thing you can do is start now. My advice for freshmen is to start chipping away at the balance as early as possible.”
Unfortunately, every student reported feeling that CUA doesn’t help alleviate the stress of impending student loan debt. There are no resources on the university website for making a financial plan after college, only ways to alleviate the burden during school. When visiting the Financial Aid Office in person, students are only given information about how to make a payment plan for the fall and spring semesters. There is always the option of making an appointment with a Financial Aid Officer, however many students wouldn’t know where to start in that meeting.
Students would benefit from the resources being made more publicly available, perhaps through seminars, newsletters, or online access. Making it through college is one thing, but flourishing after graduation should be the goal of every student and faculty member here at CUA. If the administration offered more help in making a financial plan after college, everyone’s lives would be easier, and when alumni receive that envelope asking for donations only six months after they graduate, they’ll probably be in more of a giving mood.