The dust has settled from the first month of campus activities and students seem to be easing into college life with high spirits at Northern Kentucky University. Greek life is in full swing, Norse Force is fanning the flames of team loyalty and students have filled classrooms to begin their studies. But there’s an air of uncertainty among some students—their future beyond the concrete walls of NKU.
One of the main concerns you’ll notice when talking with students around campus is their financial outlook. Enrollment numbers at colleges around the country continuously grow as do the tuition costs. In today’s economy, it’s not uncommon to hear people talk about how they cannot sleep at night due to this anxiety.
Former NKU student, Brian Flick graduated with a degree in marketing in May 2012. Like millions of graduates around the country, Flick has begun to face the realities of finding employment. He is currently holding down a restaurant job he held before graduation.
“I’ve sent resumes to over 60 different job openings around the country and haven’t received a single phone call,” said Flick. “Every job says we need this many years of experience but how do we get this experience without being hired on?”
Flick is fortunate in the fact that he currently holds no student loan debt, but this is not a coincidence he shares with the majority of his college peers. For some students, debt comes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
NKU President Geoff Mearns stated his plans to continue the strategy of former president James Votruba in the sense of making enrollment standards higher and helping students prepare for “meaningful employment” after graduation.
To broaden the scope of the situation, unemployment rates in America have fluctuated in the past few years. The country is currently sitting on an 8.5 percent unemployment rate. According to CNNMoney, nearly 49 percent of American households are currently receiving some form of government assistance.
When matched with the volume of people with degrees competing for scraps in the job market, the reality can be sobering and discouraging for college graduates.
Recent Salmon P. Chase College of Law graduate, Brandis Bradley has begun to feel uncertain about her career outlook post-graduation.
“It’s disheartening to put hard work and goodwill into your education and you cannot find a job after graduation,” said Bradley. “Even if you do find a job, most people cannot make the minimum payment on their loans every month.”
With a national estimate over $1 trillion, it’s safe to say student loan debt in America is the new real-estate bubble and it grows at a rate of $2,853.99 per second, according to www.FinAid.org.
With Pell Grants, FAFSA, construction projects, NCAA athletics and an ever-increasing student body, young and old, the cost of education will grow.
The bursting of the education bubble, like any other bubble, is inevitable. A worst case scenario could lead to layoffs of faculty, dramatic drop-offs in enrollment, limited teacher tenure and delayed construction projects.
You can get out of most troubles in life but one unforgivable social sin is accruing student loan debt. What happens when a debt strapped student cannot find a job to begin paying back those debts? Are they going to be able to pay back $50,000 working in retail? This is a serious question that hasn’t been met with optimistic answers.
The state slogan of Kentucky, “Where Education Pays,” may be taking on an alternate meaning for some students. State budget woes and the increased privatization and corporatization of public education could mean a new slogan: “Where Education Gets Paid.”
The country will rebound from this someday but in order to begin recovering we must determine where the bottom of the debt trench ends. When that will happen has yet to be determined.