Coping With A Mountain Of Debt After Graduation
By Katy Berninger
The day you never thought would get here has finally come. You are now a college graduate, and you proudly admire your brand new diploma. You have never felt more accomplished in your life, and then it hits you: now it's time to pay for this diploma that you worked so hard to get. And 65% of your fellow graduates will have to do the same, according to Gocollege.com.
It's not enough that college students are already facing an incredible transition by being thrust into the “real world,” they also must cope with the thousands of dollars of debt that has piled up over the last four years.
College students from all over the country are finding ways to deal with this new burden, as well as coping with the change of being adults. Amy Myers, 21 has “mixed feelings” about leaving college.
“On the one hand, I'm really looking forward to having freedoms that I haven't had for the last four years, and pursuing other things. On the other hand, school has been what I've been doing for the last 21 years, and I don't know if I really feel like an adult yet,” Meyers says.
Myers isn't alone in her feelings. Julia Dorney, 21, feels the same way. When asked how she felt about graduating she said, “I'm really excited, but scared at the same time. Especially since the economy is so bad right now.”
Making money during a recession is becoming a burden
for graduates who are trying to pay off student loans.
Dorney is right about the economy. It is no secret that the current job market is the worst it has been in years. College graduates are facing some of the bleakest prospects in decades. The National Association for Colleges and Employers conducted a survey that found there will be 22% fewer jobs for graduates in 2009 than the previous year, according to Time Magazine. Some companies are not even planning to hire recent college graduates.
How are graduates supposed to pay off those loans when they can't even find a job in the first place? Some are going to have to turn to their parents for help.
Mike DeMarco, 22, says, “I'm planning on moving back home for the first year so that I can get on my feet and find a job. Hopefully living with my parents will allow me to save money.”
DeMarco is one of a few lucky students whose parents were able to pay for his college education with the help of loans. Talking to soon to be graduates it becomes clear that parents play a huge role in whether students are able to pay off the pile of debt that they accumulated. Many students who have this luxury are grateful for their parents’ support.
“I owe it to my parents because they have done everything for me,” says Meyers. “They have supported me for so long.” When asked if she felt more responsibility Meyers said, “ of course, more than anything I want to pay my parents back for what they have done for me. I feel like it's about time.”
The feeling of responsibility that Myers describes is not uncommon. Graduates are no longer under the umbrella of school and don't feel like they can get away with as much. “We aren't in a little bubble anymore where our only worries are homework and our part-time job,” says Dorney says. “We now have to worry about bills, and paying taxes, and supporting ourselves.”
Students are going to have to find different ways of going about this daunting task. Some like DeMarco will move back in with their parents hoping to save money. Others like Myers will try to work as much as they can to save money.
However, the current recession is always in the back of people's minds. Myers said that she didn't think she would be affected by the current economic situation. She works at Starbucks and didn’t believe she would face job uncertainty. But the company has announced store closings and Myers says she is trying to hold onto her job so that she can begin paying off those looming loans.
No matter what graduates will be doing to tackle the mountain of debt, it is certain that it won’t be an easy task. The transition into adulthood is rarely easy. As students enter this time of change, more than ever they will need to keep a positive attitude.
“I'm just going to keep chipping away at whatever I need to pay back and do everything that I can,” DeMarco says. “There is no reason why I need to be freaking out about it. I have my whole life ahead of me.”