The Millennial's Perspective On Student Loans

By Shelly Greenstein on March 11, 2016

politico.com

Being a part of the millennial generation has opened my eyes to many realizations. I have had epiphanies pertaining to love, life, and happiness throughout the years that have helped steer me in the right direction. My personal life as well as my academic choices have been guided by smartly made choices that will hopefully get me to where I want to be in the near future.

One thing I did not recognize while in college, though, was the real-life aftermath of my student loans. I went to community college first in order to save as much money as possible and to minimize my final loan amount, but I still owe almost $30,000 at the young age of 23.

On February 15, U.S. marshals in Houston, TX began arresting people with outstanding federal student loans. They even went so far as to arrest a man named Paul Aker for an outstanding loan of $1,500 from the year 1987. The U.S. Marshall Service stated that they currently have between 1,200 and 1,500 warrants out for the arrests of people with outstanding federal loans.

This led me to believe that I should be in fear of my student loans. Will I ever be able to pay them back fully within my own lifetime? Or will this debt follow me around until the day I die?

Most importantly, I started to wonder if other people in my generation were dealing with the same (or worse) financial strain as I am? Or am I one of the few that will graduate fiscally choking?

Jaycey Ells, a 2013 graduate of the University of Montana, shared her student loan experience with me.

“I was never given any counseling on responsible borrowing,” explained Ells of her current debt. “I have been making payments since I graduated and I’m not too worried. They are manageable, and after 20 years, the rest will be gone.”

Ells even took her faith in the loan system so far as to plan her next level of education.

“I’m not worried about going back to school,” Ells said. “I will probably have to take out another six to $12,000 in loans for my second degree.”

“I’m better with my money now and have a good job,” explained Ells of her current financial situation in comparison to the last time she took out her loans. “I think the money aspect will be a bit more reasonable this time.”

Ells also explained why she was going back to school in the first place.

“My degree will help me get into public service so I should qualify for loan forgiveness after 10 years. It’s just a way of life for people my age,” she said.

“I was lucky and smart enough to graduate,” Ells continued. “I know people who are saddled with $30,000 in loans who didn’t even bother to finish their degree. Not a smart move there.”

Ells’ view of her loans as a necessity seemed to be a common one amongst borrowers. It seemed as though Ells shared my same ironic notion that debt was something we had to put ourselves into in order to become a successful being of society one day.

Sarah Krenicki, who graduated Green Mountain College in 2014, also shared a similar opinion.

“I think it’s sad that the national average is $30,000,” Krenicki said. “People just starting out shouldn’t be stuck with $30,000 in debt, especially with the job market the way it is.”

Krenicki finished school with an above average amount of student debt totaling in roughly $40,000.

“I wish I really knew what I was getting myself into. When I signed up for that loan I was 17 or 18 and the first one in my family to go to college,” explained Krenicki of her experience in taking out her loans.

“I had no idea what my monthly payment would be, or what to expect for my post-college income,” Krenicki continued. “Colleges just love to tell you that you’ll get hired and it’ll all work out, but with the economy the way it’s been, I’ve been working retail and a part-time marketing job.”

But Krenecki, like Ells and myself, has accepted her situation and made due.

“My friends are in the same boat, and some have it worse, so you kind of get used to it.”

So my questions were answered: people all over the world were facing the same circumstances that I was. We all didn’t like the way things were, but also realized that we didn’t really have a choice in the matter. We just have to make the best of our crummy situations.

When it comes to repayment, I personally started to work on lessening my loan amounts as much as I possibly can. Any spare change I currently come across is put directly into my small private loan so that I can finish with that one hopefully before I graduate. As for my larger federal loan, I hope to be done with it within three to five years after I graduate.

I will always do my best to pay above the minimum amount required of me for all of my loans. I just hope that these above average measures I am taking will get me out of my hole altogether.

Currently attending Rutgers University for Journalism. Passion for truth and speaking my mind.

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