One of my college professors told me I was working for a “million dollar degree.” The idea being that college graduates make on average $1 million more in their lifetime than non-college graduates.
Obviously high school dropouts like Bill Gates throw the curve a little but the idea makes sense. In my Grandfather’s day a high school diploma was overkill. Most people didn’t need one because they could get a job at the local plant, work hard, and have a good life, without ever needing higher education. Circumstances have not been so kind to my generation. Increasingly, a better job requires more education, and more education means more debt.
Students are afflicted by the trifecta: rising tuition, falling state and local funding, and stagnant or falling house hold incomes mean students are adopting more and more debt. While this is not yet a “crisis” according to Charles Blow at The New York Times, “The student debt crisis may become a dangerous ‘new normal’” :
Many can’t find jobs that pay well enough to quickly pay off the debt. This has long-term implications for our society and our economy, as that debt begins to affect when and if young people start families or enter the housing market.
In fact, student debt is rivaled only by mortgage debt and is set to break a trillion dollars in a few years. The broader implications of this situation are varied but I
will leave you with this thought. Retirement has a price tag, one that you save up for your entire life. What is going to happen when my generation gets there after paying the equivalent of two mortgages?