Roughly 70 percent of college students in the U.S. have to take out loans to pay for their education – an education that is getting increasingly more expensive.
Over the past decade student debt in the U.S. has nearly tripled to $1.5 trillion. Some indebted grads are now looking to a TV show to provide some relief.
CGTN’s Karina Huber has more.
A new TV show called “Paid Off” helps people pay off their student loans and hopes to trigger a wider conversation about the problem. It looks like fun and games but student debt in America is no joke.
Roughly 44 million – or one in four Americans – has student debt and that number is growing at over ten percent per year.
Student debt in the U.S. now stands at almost $1.5 trillion with U.S. graduates carrying an average debt load of $37,000.
These statistics are all too real for 32-year-old Sheena Demby who works as a wholesale operations manager in the fashion industry in New York.
She has $300,000 in student loans.
“Half of my check – almost two-thirds of my check – goes to paying student loans. Every single month. I can’t afford to save. I can’t afford to invest. There are times when I’m still eating your ramen noodles and your dollar pizza. It’s hard,” Demby said.
How did Demby and so many other Americans get here? Well, college tuition has been rising. Getting a college degree is about twice as expensive today than it was 20 years ago. At the same time, there is less money available for scholarships and financial aid.
“Looking at this as a 17, 18-year old, what are you going to do? You’re going to sit there and say ‘no, I’m not going to get an education?’ Every single job out there tells you, you need to have a college education,” said Jonathan Brodsky, U.S. Country Manager at Finder.com.
Demby said she felt the pressure to get a degree – at any cost.
“Everybody is pushing you. Finish. Get your degree. You gotta finish school. You gotta do this. You gotta do that. Nobody at any point is saying ‘if you do this when you leave, job or not, you will be in debt. You will be in a lot of debt’,” said Demby.
Brodsky said Americans have very low rates of financial literacy. Many don’t fully comprehend the concept of compound interest.
“So when you look at this and say ‘Ok, I’m going to take out a $50,000 loan for my education, you don’t understand that that actually means you’re paying back a hundred thousand over the next 20 years or more depending on the interest rate you got,” said Brodsky.
A new study predicts recent graduates will have to delay retirement to 75 in part because of the burden of student debt.
Demby feels trapped by her predicament. For the moment is pinning her hopes on becoming a contestant on “Paid Off.”
Matt Sapaula discusses student loan debt
CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke to financial literacy expert Matt Sapaula about student loan debt.