But the picture isn’t rosy for all the 2011 graduates. They’re graduating during the tail end of a recession into a job market that the experts say is rebounding, but who really knows. And to make matters worse, these graduates will be saddled with the highest debt of any other class – around $22,000 per person. That’s quite a hole to dig yourself out of.
Fortunately, the general thinking is that a college degree is still worth it because of the earning potential it gives degree holders – those four years of eating ramen noodles and studying all night really are an investment in the future. Which is a good thing, because that debt is an obligation that’s with you for years and years to come. And unlike an auto loan or mortgage, you don’t really have much more than a piece of paper to show for it.
I’m glad my son felt it was worth it. He has a real job, starting in 2 weeks, and he’s happy with his salary. In his mind, he’s going to be flush with cash. At least he was until I sat down with him and listed all the things he was going to have to pay for: health insurance, 401k contributions, cell phone, car insurance, rent, etc. His take-home pay number shrank rather quickly. It was another sobering look at reality for him.
In my son’s case, in addition to student loans, he is also taking on a car payment. Yesterday he went to a local CU (at my suggestion) to get pre-approved for an auto loan, another lesson in adult living. (BTW, he spoke with several CUs about an auto loan and ended up choosing the one that had the fewest hoops to jump through. Words to the wise for sure. Getting an auto loan at a megabank was out of the question. They wouldn’t even work with him.) He came home yesterday from the CU quite happy. The loan officer was extremely nice to him and made several good suggestions. She was very accommodating and encouraging.
And now, like so many other wise people, he has started the rest of his life with a great impression of credit unions.