The American Dream Has Become the American Farce for Generations Y and Z
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The American dream has become the American farce for Generations Y and Z.
Student loan interest rates doubled to 6.8% on 1 July until Congress reached an agreement to change them back weeks later. This isn't some small special interest issue; it impacts 40 million Americans.
Indebtedness has become a ravaging disease infiltrating our US waters, and there doesn't seem to be a cure to stem the tides of suffering that so many of us are dealing with at present. There are more questions than answers on how to remedy this unpleasant situation. To his credit, President Obama recently conducted a town hall at the University of Buffalo to discuss his new plan to attack student loan debt for numerous citizens drowning in it.
"A higher education is the single best investment you can make in your future and college has never been more expensive", Obama said during his speech. And he is right. According to the College Board & Advocacy Policy Center, the cost of a private nonprofit four-year college institution has risen 267% over the past 30 years. Within the same time frame, the cost of a public four-year college institution has risen by 357%. The average student loan debt for graduates stands at $26,000.
In the past nine years, the average student loan balance has exponentially grown from $10,649 to $20,326. Outstanding student debt totals $1.2tn in the US. The new initiative being put forth by Obama and his administration is to create a new college rating system by 2015 and tie federal aid to that rating system. It remains to be seen if this idea can become actual law. Congress is currently on vacation and some would argue that they've been on vacation for at least four years.
But this issue is becoming more problematic by the day.
After speaking with many of my peers, we utter the same frustrations about our current perilous financial situations. Some have said, "Why did I go to college if this was going to be my outcome? I don't understand how this system is designed, but something must be done to change it." How did we get here?
Children are told when they're growing up that college is their only option because it's a cold, dog-eat-dog world out there. But what gets lost in translation during our formative years is the value of a dollar and how to manage our finances. Does the fault fall at the doorstep of our parents or with us for not inquiring about the promise of our futures? Due to our lack of fiscal responsibility, it's not until we're adults that we're forced to deal with these economic misfortunes and by then it's rendered inconsequential because the damage has already been done.
Speaking from personal experience, I attended a four-year institution and I was the recipient of federal Pell grants, but the bulk of the money I received were through federal and state student loans. A week after I walked across the stage to receive my degree, agencies were calling me non-stop to consolidate my outstanding student loans. The result is a 30-year-old man drowning in $45,000-plus in student loan debt.
The degree I earned didn't land the optimal occupation to afford me the luxury of paying back the lolly I owe. Little did I know that by declaring forbearance on a student loan, your interest rate that was supposedly "locked in" accrues slowly, which increases the principal on the overall sum of your consolidated loan. Since graduating in 2006, I've been unemployed twice for long periods of time due to the atrocious job market.