September 20, 2012

You Get The Picture: Start saving now if you want to go to college

By Magen McCrarey
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — While rowing through the collegiate river of knowledge for four and a half years, I carried two jobs just to stay financially afloat. Not to mention that during my supposed last semester, I tacked on 19 hours to graduate on time. Due to the university’s slack on proper advising—my anticipated graduation date did not commence.

Unlike the majority of 20-something year olds, I’m not completely in debt up to my eyeballs thanks to parental affections for my future. Yet I still carry more than one occupation just to stay afloat in this pitfall economy. My concern has begun to build for those now entering into college for the first time, and those who are about to graduate with a degree they believe will land them an adequate job to help pay back their student loans.

The weight a bachelor’s degree holds anymore is like having $20 in your wallet. It’s good for something, but can’t secure the post-collegiate dream you really wanted. On the bright side, higher education is still the door to most good jobs. Kudos to those hard-studying students who received a scholarship to rest their worried heads upon, because they’ve jumped through every financial hoop the educational system has thrown at them with ease. For those racking up student loan interest and taking on 18 hours a semester to reduce student debt, I commend you. In your grandparents’ time of economic strife, a man could work their way through college. Anymore, you must give up housing and food to afford the same dream. Which means, more student loans to live off of, and more future debt.

I completely agree with the current educational system’s push for “college and career readiness” because everyone should have a fighting chance at a middle-class income and a better understanding of the world about them. Although, who’s going to be able to afford the ever-constant increase in college tuition? My advice is to start saving now. Pell grants for students will now only be useable for 12 semester instead of 18 semesters, and there is only a one-year extension of the current discounted 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized Stafford Loans. Six months after a student graduates college, they have six months to begin the dreaded repayment of student loans. Let the rowing continue upstream through the economic river of disappointment and Godspeed!