Student loans bury graduates’ hopes of success

America: the land of the free, and the home of the anything-but. In case you were not aware of the crippling debt crisis looming over most college graduates, or you have an apathy toward it best demonstrated by the majority of the U.S. Senate, take this moment to appreciate students’ years of hard work — before the cost of it buries them.

About 40 million Americans have at least one student loan, which all adds up to $1.2 trillion of debt, according to data collected by Experian from 2008 to 2014. Experian’s 2014 study on student loan debt revealed the average balance of a student with loans is $29,000.

Many of us will graduate with student loans, especially with the rising cost of tuition, cost of housing and the lack of well-paying jobs for students.

According to the Institute for College Access and Success, 59 percent of Kentucky college graduates in 2013 left with a diploma and an average of $24,693 in student loan debt. At UK that same year, 41 percent of graduates, 4,022 students, had student loan debt, the average of which was $25,102, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.

The point of going to college is to get an education, graduate and get a “big kid job” that pays well, so one can travel, raise a family in a nice house, drive a nice mid-sized car, have a 60” TV and retire to Florida.

However, with an average of nearly $29,000 of student loan debt and interest rates that could reach upwards of 9 percent, paying off student debt could take decades.

Student loan debt will likely impede our generation’s ability to achieve the dream that generations before us fought to make a reality.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) pitched a solution last year. The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act would have allowed millions of graduates to refinance their student loan interest rates to less than 4 percent a year, by raising income taxes on people who make between $1 million and $2 million.

Sadly, the bill made it through the House of Representatives, but was blocked in the Senate.

Students need to hold their legislative representatives accountable. Our politicians need to work together to fix the problem of student debt, whether it’s a new bill to lower interest rates, a refinancing option or debt forgiveness.

Without legislative change, this may become a hole we cannot climb out of.

[email protected]