My dad has asked me many times to write a guest entry for his blog projecttuitionreimbursement.com , and I had been hesitant ... Not because I'm ashamed, too busy, or any other excuses... But because financials have always seemed like such a private matter... However, I now see that my input is more appropriate than ever.
It's been 5 years since I have graduated, and I've been employed by a great company for 4 years now. In my current role, my primary responsibility is recruiting, training , and development. On a weekly basis I'm interviewing many new graduates who, much like myself at the time, are green and ready to take on the world !
Upon graduation from college, It's become apparent that all new graduates leave with the same ideals... "Ok, schools behind me, I have a new degree, I'll be a valuable asset to any company, and I should start off making 50k "... Well, this is something that most recent grads, with their bachelors degree, have experienced to be completely incorrect.
Let me start by saying that I (in no way, shape, or form) regret the decision to attend college. It would be completely irresponsible of me to say that I could have achieved such success, especially so early on in my career, without the tools and over all experience that my college experience provided for me. I attended a 4 year university, which was out of state, even though I had qualified for 'TOPS', a tuition assistant program for academically qualifying Louisiana high school students ( however it only applies to colleges and universities in Louisiana ).
I was lucky enough to receive an out of state tuition scholarship ( which waved the out of state fees -that are close to double the cost of instate tuition ).
At that time, it seemed like a "win"! Like most college freshmen, I signed the dotted line for financial aid ... Not once thinking about any challenges post graduation that I may have making these payments, after all I was going to have a degree .... Which meant I would have a well paying job anyways ...
Fast forward 4.5 years ( my degree required a minor that extended my program another semester) and I have my bachelors of science with a minor in marketing, and $40,000 of debt to various financial institutions.
I , like most, immediately started job seeking ... Waiting tables in the mean time. After my 3 month grace period post graduation I started receiving my student loan bills, they averaged out to $480 a month . I paid on time every month, as I still do , and will continue to do for the next 15 + years .
It was 8 months after I graduated that I accepted a position with my current employer . And i would be lying if I said I was not disappointed with my initial salary ... However, I knew my work ethic, drive, and dedication and knew that this would be a temporary set back. I continued to live at home with my family, and commuted close to 2 hours each way daily for the next year and a half . Over this period of time I did push myself in my career, and I was promoted twice, which finally allowed me the financial independence to move out and find a place of my own in the city.
I am one of the lucky ones, i not only graduated, but I also found a career within my field of study. I love my job, and I'm now compensated very well. As I stated earlier, I believe that my college education played a critical roll in my ability to advance so early on . Yet, part of me still feels dissatisfaction with the set backs due to repayment of these student loans ... In 5 years that's 60 months of $480 payments ... That's $28,800 ... And the sad part is that a majority of that $28,800 has not gone towards my principle balance . Today, I still owe close to $30,000 in student loans.
The focus of this blog is not to bash, belittle, or even suggest that higher education is not worth it -as I have clearly stated, I greatly value my college education and would not trade it for the world .
But I think it's clear that when we look at the numbers ... It just does not add up ... There has got to be a change. We need to reevaluate the way in which student loans are handled, to insure future generations have a fare chance at success .
New Orleans, Louisiana
Thank you Ashley