Issues in the news and their impact here at home

Recent statistics have come out on the topic of student loan debts of students in the United States who graduated in 2018.  I find the amounts owed shocking and want to share important information for those sending children off to colleges in the upcoming year. Let me review a few of the statistics, as of this month.

American families currently owe $1.48 trillion in student loan debt. A total of 44 million students who have, or are, attending schools of higher education still have debt.  For 2017 the graduates owe an average debt of $39,400 at time of graduation. Some 66 percent of graduates of public colleges had loans (average loans were $25,500); 88 percent of graduates from for-profit colleges had an average debt of $39,950. The worse news is that these average debts are increasing annually.

I understand that large numbers of parents want to send their children to school because of better job opportunities and higher salaries on graduation.  

However, this requires greater planning and preparation than just 10 years ago. Prices are going up faster than general inflation. It is not only tuition, but choices made on student housing and even majors. Obviously, enrollment in medical school is much more expensive than becoming a teacher. If you can commute to school from home, it is much cheaper than living on campus. 

Perhaps the dialog between the students and parents should begin upon entering their freshman year in high school. For instance improved grades in high school will influence scholarships and other factors that may reduce the cost of college.

The bottom line, however, is the choice of a school now, more than ever before, must include the cost of enrollment and attendance, as well as the academic credentials of the school.  

College graduation almost always increases job prospects, but starting life after graduation with a sizable student debt can be a psychological, as well as a financial, burden. Please  prepare early and thoroughly.

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(John Reppert is an Anna native and former editor of The Gazette-Democrat. He served in the U.S. Army, rising from the rank of private to brigadier general. He earned a PhD in international relations and taught at the University of Maryland. He also served as the executive director of research at Harvard University’s Belfer Center. He can be contacted by email at reppertjc@aol.com.)

The Gazette-Democrat

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Anna, Illinois 62906
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