Over the summer I took Financial Literacy. Unsurprisingly, it discussed debt. Credit card debt and especially college debt.
It gave shocking numbers and one that stuck with me is that the average amount of debt of college students is 29,000 dollars. I don’t remember the exact percent but there were also a ton of students that had to drop out of college to work so they could pay for the college debts.
The problem with debt from college is that you can’t get rid of it. If you declare bankruptcy you are still expected to pay off your loans and all the time you are working up the money the loans are gaining interest against you.
So, why are college students so in debt?
It may seem obvious (college is expensive) but there’s more to it than that. Credit card companies specifically target college age students. They entice them with low upfront fees and seemingly good deals. College students can either get trapped in contracts of the credit card, can be unaware of the high fees associated with credit cards if they don’t pay off the debts, not be able to pay off what they spend on the card, overspend, etc. The list could go on and on.
There are multitudes of ways for college students to get in debt. And to me, it seems like that is partially the fault of the high school system. I don’t know how it is in other schools but I doubt it is very different. In Mason we only have to take on class on financial education. One class before you graduate, and it’s usually taken in your sophomore year, and you are expected to know how to navigate the world of finances, taxes, and debt.
I already finished the course and to be honest I have no idea how to do taxes. There seem to be 100 forms to fill out and you have to know specific information. I’m at a loss and that is the only help I am going to get because there isn’t anything else for me in high school. I could take banking and investing or one of the elective classes but I’m not going to because 1) I don’t have room and 2) I’m not interested in that field so I don’t want to waste my time on a non-required class.
You could blame me for my uneducatedness (is that a word) in this field. I might agree with you. That I’m doing it to myself. But what about the other schools? The ones that are nearly as fortunate as Mason is and only have one class that teaches finance. The schools that don’t have as good teachers as Mason and whose students walk out of high school with a diploma and no understanding of how to live a fiscally responsible life.
It is because of this that they average college student has twenty-nine thousand dollars in college debt. It is because of this that college students have to drop out and give up on their future because they weren’t prepared in high school for the real world.
In high school we’re given standardized testing and memorizing equations. we’re given calculus and chemistry and history of the universe. We’re given all that but where and when will we be given reality? When will we learn how to live as an adults?
Will we ever or will we all just become another average of students that dropped out or gave up because they didn’t have the knowledge to try?