Showing posts with label Student Loan Hero. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Student Loan Hero. Show all posts

Monday, September 24, 2018

College students spend more time working than attending classes but they're still forced to take out student loans

Many years ago, when I was a first-year law student at University of Texas, Professor Robert Hamilton, my law instructor, told our class of first-year students not to work while in law school. Working part-time, Professor Hamilton said, would distract us from our studies and degrade the quality of our law-school experience.

I remember thinking that was good advice for people from wealthy families, but it wouldn't work for me. I began working 20 hours a week at the Texas Attorney General's Office just as soon a finished my first year of classes; and I also got a work-study job at the law school.

In those hoary old days, students could actually work their way through college and even law school. My law-school tuition was only $1,000 a year, and by working part time, I graduated from law school with no debt.

Today, students are still working while in college, but their part-time jobs don't begin to cover the cost of tuition. Thus, even working students take out loans.

According to a recent HSBC report, 85 percent of current college students are working part-time jobs. In fact, they spend far more time working than attending classes or studying. On average, students work 4.5 hours a day, almost twice as much time as they spend in classes.

But those part-time jobs working as waiters, pizza cooks, rental-car agents, etc. hardly cover basic living expenses--food, shelter, cell phone, car insurances, etc. And so most students are borrowing to pay tuition. In 2017, college graduates finished their studies owing an average of almost $40,000. And that doesn't include credit card debt, averaging about $4,000.

A perception still exists that going to college and professional school is a time of awakening intellect when students develop personal and vocational identities sitting at the feet of wise and learned scholars. But that time is long gone--if it ever existed.

Today, students are stressed out by their college experience. Six out of ten report feeling anxious about financial concerns either frequently or all the time. And women report more financial anxiety than men.

Going to college now is like running a gauntlet between rows of vicious bureaucrats and money lenders trying to beat the student down. Some people survive the experience relatively unscathed and go one to get jobs that allow them to pay back modest of amounts of student debt.

But a growing number of young people finish their post-secondary studies worse off than before they first enrolled. They borrow far too much money and graduate with no skills and no idea what they want to do for a living. In some instances, students' parents get sucked into the maw of college debt, taking out Parent PLUS loans they can't pay back.

Indebted college graduates who don't find good jobs are often forced to obtain economic hardship deferments on their student loans, excusing them from making payments while the interest accrues. Others get pushed into 20- and 25-year repayment plans that are structured so that their debt keeps growing even if they faithfully make their monthly payments. And about one million people a year simply default on their loans--essentially committing financial suicide.

The higher education flacks say over and over that a college education is a ticket to a good job and a middle class lifestyle.  And for some people that's true. But its not true for everybody.

For millions of people, their college experience is nothing but a scam, and this is disproportionately true for women, minorities, and people from low-income families.

Going to college is like running the gauntlet




Sunday, July 29, 2018

Divorce, birth rates and home ownership: All are negatively affected by crushing student-loan debt

According to Student Loan Hero, about 1 out 8 divorcees queried in a recent survey said that the student loans they took out before getting married eventually led to their divorce.  And the survey also found that more than a third of couples with student debt delayed their divorce because they couldn't afford the expense.

Apparently, student loans are now such a significant marital problem that one New York attorney recommends couples sign a prenuptial agreement specifying that the person helping to pay off the spouse's student loans gets reimbursed in case of a divorce. How romantic!

Experts have long agreed that money problems put a strain on marriages, but student loans are a particularly nasty form of debt. No wonder so many divorcees cited student loans specifically as a major cause of their marital split. Unlike car loans, credit card debt and home mortgages, student-loan debt is almost impossible to discharge in bankruptcy. Moreover, student-loan borrowers have huge penalties slapped on their college-loan debt if they default--25 percent of the amount owed, including unpaid interest.

The Student Loan Hero survey is only the most recent evidence of the pain Americans are suffering from student loans. Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that Americans are having fewer babies; and college loans are one of the reasons.

The Times conducted a survey of men and women in the 20-to-45 age group, and almost two thirds said they planned to have fewer children than their ideal because of financial concerns.  Among people who said they planned to have no children, 13 percent cited student debt.

And the Federal Reserve Bank of New York documented last year that student debt was negatively affecting the housing market. A 2017 Federal Reserve Bank report observed that home ownership among young people declined by 8 percent over an 8-year period (2007 to 2015);  and the Feds concluded that a substantial reason for this decline is rising levels of student-loan debt.

The Fed report also observed that more young Americans are living with their parents than in previous years. In 2004, about one third of 23-25-year-olds lived with their parents. In 2015, 45 percent of people in this age bracket were living with mom and dad--a big increase.

None of this bad news should be surprising as Americans borrow more and more money to go to college. In 2002, only 20 percent of student borrowers owed $20,000 or more. Last year, 40 percent of student debtors owed that much or more. And borrowers owing $50,000 or more jumped from 5 percent to 16 percent during the same time period.

Remarkably, almost no one in the higher education industry even acknowledges a problem with soaring student-loan debt. If there  is a problem, the industry flacks tell us, the easy solution is extended repayment terms. Simply force Americans to pay back their loans over 20 years or even 25 years, university insiders insist.

Do you suppose Betsy DeVos thinks about distressed student borrowers when she sips her martinis on her $40 million yacht, the Seaquest? I doubt it. Based on the way she's running the Department of Education, my guess is that she worries more about protecting the predatory for-profit colleges than the students who got swindled by them.

And who do you suppose Betsy is more likely to invite for drinks on the Seaquest--a single mom who defaulted on a loan she took out to attend the University of Phoenix or an equity-fund manager who owns part of the University of Phoenix?



Betsy DeVos's $40 million yacht--193 feet long!


References

Moriah Balingit. Someone untied Betsy DeVos's yacht in Ohio. Damage EnsuedWashington Post, July 26, 2018.

Jessica Dickler. 1 in 8 divorces is caused by student loans. CNBC.com., July 27, 2018.

Ben Luthi. Survey: Student Loan Borrowers Wait Longer and Pay More to Get Divorced. Student Debt Hero, July 24, 2018.

Claire Cain Miller. Americans Are Having Fewer Babies. They Told Us Why. New York Times, July 5, 2018.

Rick Seltzer. Percentage of Borrowers Owing $20,000 or More Doubled Since 2002. Inside Higher Ed, August 17, 2017.

Zachary Bleemer, et al. Echoes of Rising Tuition in Students' Borrowing, Educational Attainment, and Homeownership in Post-Recession America. Federal Reserve Bank of New York Staff Report No. 820, July 2017.

Steve Rhode. Student Loan Debt Hurts Economy, Consumers, and Retirement SavingsPersonal Finance Syndication Network, September 2017.

Friday, January 8, 2016

"Dream Schools Are Just A Dream": Melanie Lockert's Cautionary Advice About Borrowing Money to Attend A PrestigiousGraduate School

Melanie Lockert wrote a very mature and thoughtful essay about her student-loan debt for Student Loan Hero, a web site on student loan indebtedness. Melanie took out $81,000 to get her postsecondary education: $23,00 for her bachelor's degree and $58,000 for her master's degree. 

Melanie took on most of her debt due to her decision to get a master's degree from New York University, one of the most expensive universities on the planet. Remarkably, she was able to pay off all this debt in eight years, but she paid a price for borrowing so much money to get an education.

Melanie gave her readers five pieces of advice about borrowing money to get a graduate education, and her column is well worth reading. In particular, she warned people to be cautious about a decision to go to a "dream school." I am quoting her remarks about that here:
Dream Schools Are Just a Dream
It's not uncommon for people like me, who take on a large amount of debt to go to school, to be met with a certain amount of criticism. I was repeatedly asked why I didn't go to a cheaper school.
My answer? I wanted to go to my dream school. My dream obviously came at a cost, but I was willing to pay the price. I was stubborn and no one could tell me not to pursue my dream. However, I realized the reality of attending my dream school wasn't so dreamy after all. I got a lot out of my education at NYU, but it was a lot harder than I imagined.
Our judgement can be clouded by fantasy — we think a certain school can bring us legitimacy, talent, and clout. But in the end, it's just a school. Consider carefully the cost of your dream school and what price you might pay many years down the road.
Melanie's essay struck home with me because I too made a decision to attend a dream school: Harvard Graduate School of Education. Like Melanie, I came to realize that in the end Harvard was just a school, and a degree from Harvard contained no magic properties for improving my life.

If you are thinking about going to graduate school at an expensive university, I urge you to make a copy of Melanie Lockert's essay and tape it to your refrigerator so you won't lose it.  Then read her essay before you drop that graduate-school application in the mail.

References

Melanie Lockert. Student Loan Problems: What I Wish I Knew Before Borrowing $81,000 for School. Student Loan Hero, November 25, 2015. Accessible at: https://studentloanhero.com/featured/student-loan-problems-wish-knew-before-borrowing-81000/?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=blach