The Pew Research Center published a study this week quantifying what so many of us already know: Educational debt is crushing the young scholars who worked so hard to earn their degrees. Since their loan repayments diminish their disposable income, they have less to spend on discretionary stuff. While they still out-earn those without college educations, their net worth is diminished for the time it takes to repay.
Since this is happening while most are still young adults, the responsible among them delay marriage, children and home-buying until they are more financially stable. But wait, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do while we’re still young? Where is this taking us?
I feel really bad for these kids: education is expensive. The entry-level jobs that have not been outsourced don’t pay well unless you’re in finance or the sciences. Parents are struggling to keep their own jobs. With retirement happening later and later in life, young professionals are in competition with your own mom and dad.
But college is great. Education exposed blue-collar me to knowledge and places I would never have known about. I was dissuaded from going even to the cheap public university that I could afford (teenagers don’t earn a lot) but I realized that nobody can legally stop me, so I went. I thrived. I learned big words.
I don’t have the answers, though. What I do know is that we have to be each others’ support, both financial and emotional. We must always have a hand free to pull up a hard-working loved one who’s falling. We can do this. We are better than the greedy and the powerful who put us in this situation. We are loved and we love back.