Posted by: Brian Musser | November 9, 2012

Student Loan Debt affecting Recent Graduates

My wife and I went to Messiah College, a small, private Christian school in central PA. I was able to graduate without any student loan debt due to a combination of academic scholarships, federal grants, parental financing and the estate of a relative. My wife was not so fortunate. She graduated with approximately $20,000 in debt, some of which we are still paying over a decade later. Which in the statistics mentioned yesterday it is interesting to note the sharp increase in households in the 35 – 44 year old bracket that have student loan debt.

During this recession our country has statistically cut back on debt. Credit card, auto and home based debt has all declined. Overall debt has declined. However, the one area debt has increased and it has increased substantially is student loan debt. This is affecting recent graduates (and even not so recent graduates) in significant ways. Here are four stories from a Yahoo!News article.

“We do not like debt,” wrote Katelyn Fagan, who graduated from Brigham Young University in 2011. She and her husband have a combined student loan debt of just under $70,000. Fagan tried to work while in college, but wanted to focus on her academics. “Maybe I could have sought out other employment options (and I sometimes did) but school was my top priority.”

“Student loans have basically ruined my life,” says Tanya Carter, who graduated from the University of Toledo in 2008. She went to community college for two years before transferring, and attended classes part-time so she could also work. When Carter maxed out on federal loans, she turned to private loans to finish her degree. As a result of all that debt, she writes: “I never see myself owning a home, vehicle, or maybe not even getting married.”

The need to delay starting a family because of financial worries was a common concern. Lauren Dollard graduated from Fordham University in 2008 with $157,000 in debt, including interest. “My boyfriend won’t marry me because of my debt,” she says. “He doesn’t want it attached to his name (I know, this could also be an excuse).” She said she would trade her “fancy private school education” in a heartbeat to live “as an independent adult.”

April Flores graduated from San Diego State in 2008 with $80,000 in private loans and $30,000 in subsidized loans. “It is going to be hard to buy a house and start a family with our debt,” she writes. “We joke and say that our baby is Sallie Mae, but it is true! Education is invaluable, but I was not wise in my early 20s and did not make the right decisions when it came to my private loans.”   (

Working at Drexel, a rather expensive private institution, student loan debt is a huge concern for the current students but especially for the recent graduates.  I know three recent graduates who have respectable jobs within their fields of study who all have secondary, part-time hourly jobs at a movie theater, a clothing retailer and a chain restaurant.  The reason they give for holding these second jobs are their student loans.  If you have student loan debt I would love to hear from you about its effect on your life.  If you have anything else you want to say that is not included in the poll don’t be afraid to drop me a note in the comment section.


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