It is a major topic of debate, and also a primary concern for millions. It is both a necessary expense and a dark cloud that can follow graduates for decades. Student loan debt has been in the spotlight for years, as it simultaneously symbolizes a higher education and, more recently, years of ongoing struggle. As a result, some have turned to bankruptcy. This leads many Tennesseeans to ask, is excessive student loan debt worth the satisfaction of earning a degree?
Last spring, PBS News Hour shared the crippling statistic that college student loan debt in the country amounted to $1.4 trillion — exceeding what Americans owe on car loans and credit cards. While acquiring statistics for job placement and salaries post-college seems an ideal place to start, some financial experts stress the difficulty of such a task. Because many students take college classes part-time as they maintain steady jobs, getting full data on the effects of a college degree can exist in a gray area. The field a student chooses to study is another factor, as some industries have higher projected growth rates than others; relying on colleges to gather data on each major has also proven to be challenging. However, areas such as teaching or social work, for example, do not pay as well as jobs in scientific fields, and can come with differing outlooks on costs.
Of course, there are countless graduates who struggle to pay off student loan debt for years, but there are also those who never completed a degree. USA Today spends time considering college debt, referring to a Consumer Reports National Research Center study to show that roughly 45 percent of people who face loan debt but never finished a degree argue that higher education is not worth the cost. It may seem apparent, but USA Today stresses that completing a degree could give way to a more positive outlook on financial situations. And while parents and scholarships cover a large majority of costs, monthly student loan bills can come with different effects, depending on a person’s income.