after seeing all the recent comments in the blog world about student loan debt, much of it stemming from this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/04/your-money/04money.html/?src=ISMR_AP_LO_MST_FB and others like it, I feel the need to comment on student loan debt.
It's no secret that I have lots of student loan debt from undergrad, and that said debt has been in deferment since I graduated in 2006, because I've been in grad school the whole time. Some of that debt is in federal loans, and some is private. I also had a half tuition scholarship for all four years I was at BU. Even with that, the amount of loan debt I incurred is staggering/appalling/what have you.
Many people have posted wondering about how students could be as naive to not realize what they were getting into and other such things, and my response to that is: I certainly didn't think about it. It didn't occur to me that the debt I was getting into was going to affect my ability to buy a house one day, or that I'd probably be paying it off until I was 60 (yikes). Because I was at a school where that kind of student loan debt was common!
I find it a little disturbing that an undergraduate education in the USA could possibly cost as much as it does. I know that I chose to go to a private school instead of a state school, and I made that decision knowing that I would be going into debt. But I made the choice willingly, to leave Arizona because I thought I'd have better opportunities available to me by going to school in the East, in a big city, and I don't regret it. I'd even argue that I was right. I was a National Merit scholar - a program designed essentially to give kids from areas with not-so-great schools who excel on the PSATs the opportunity to go elsewhere for college, and I took advantage of it (hence, the scholarship) - but even with that, my loan debt is high. If you didn't have that scholarship, it would be RIDICULOUS to get a degree at BU or somewhere like it.
I guess the bottom line is, I don't know how much you can blame these kids who are 17 years old for going to the best college they can get into, even if they incur debt to do it. We all grew up thinking that that was the way to do it, right? And even if kids do understand that they are taking out loans and getting into debt, I don't think that an 18 year old just graduating high school who has never paid rent/bought groceries, even if they did pay for other things in high school, can understand what they are doing when they sign on the line for those loans. Maybe we need to make more "financial understanding" type classes mandatory in high school - I think that would at least be a start.