As seniors mourn the end of the happy times spent at Witt, they begin the frantic search for employment in the post-graduate world. For those who took out student loans over the course of their undergraduate studies this job search takes on an especially desperate sense of urgency as, come May, they will find themselves in debt.
In the post-recession economy, consumer debt defaults across the board have seen a sharp decline from the levels half a decade ago, which were brought about by irresponsible borrowing, and were the main cause of the tanking economy. The only exception to this is the unpaid debt from student loans, which has risen considerably despite the falling trend of unpaid debt as a whole. The culprit is the frivolous attitude students and parents have concerning the borrowing of funds in the name of education.
Randy Green, the director of financial aid at Wittenberg, meets with many incoming students and sees first-hand the laissez-faire attitude that many have in regard to taking out loans for school.
“A lot of students and families are not very knowledgeable about the impact debt will have down the line” admits Green. “Before they borrow, every student should consider the significance that debt will have four or five years down the line.”
As far as steps to eliminate and reduce debt go, there is little that can be done according to Green. “By the time we talk to students they are nearly all juniors and seniors in high school and at that point it’s already too late to make debt saving changes such as improving grades in order to get scholarships and putting personal savings toward schooling.”
Of the students who choose to borrow money to aid in their attending Wittenberg, most will end up borrowing around $32,000 over the course of four years, this is $7,000 above the national average of $25,000. While this is no surprise given that the price-tag of a small, liberal-arts education far exceeds that of many other public and private institutions, in Green’s eyes, the average Wittenberg graduate will have no problem paying off any debt amassed. Responsible money management, says Green, is the key to dodging delinquent debt after graduation. “Look at expenditures and seek to minimize them while at school. Go on a lower cost meal plan or get a campus job and start saving for future payments.”
In order to combat the rising trend of unpaid student loan debt, many are turning toward strategies such as income-based loan repayment in order to soften the otherwise harsh impact that student loans can have on a fledgling professionals. This is especially relevant to graduates looking for employment opportunities such as the Peace Corps that pay considerably more in experience and worldliness than they do in legal tender. Under this system, the amount owed back for your loans is tailored to fit your income in a way that allows for comfortable living standards.
Any students concerned for their economic well-being are advised to stop by the Financial Aid office in Recitation Hall, where he or she can discuss strategies to cope with debt.