Let's Talk About It!
When was the last time you spoke to your friends or family about your student loans? Student loans seem to be the the subject everyone has experience in, but no one wants to talk about. If you haven’t googled the two evil words lately, you should. The statistics on student loans in the U.S. are staggering, with almost 70% of people graduating with student loan debt. That means if you are currently in school 7 of your 10 classmates are racking up their debt and the average debt is about 37k.
After listening to Our Student Loan Secrets on the Death, Sex & Money podcast hosted by Anna Sale, I pictured myself and how I never brought up the subject of student loans. I know so many of my friends that have student debt and I know the awkward sense of avoiding the subject when it comes up in conversation. Why hide it? Why lie about it? It sucks! I say let’s talk about it!
It amazed me that millions of young adults have these massive debts and yet never bring them up in discussion with parents, friends or even mentors. I am sure if you are someone who is lucky enough to be free of student loans you probably know someone who isn't as fortunate. Finances aren't a usual topic of discussion, so talking about the massive debt you have might not be on your top five favorite things to chat about with your friends or parents. But guess what…sharing your experiences and struggles will only help build confidence when tackling this daunting subject. I challenged myself and brought up student loan debt to current college students from a few different universities.
After getting in contact with 25 students and former students across the country that have student loans, I found that almost no one brings them up or asks for guidance. Student debt is like an 800 pound gorilla that weighs on your thoughts but doesn’t come out to exercise.
I asked the 25 individuals to rate how often they talked about their loans using four degrees of frequency- never, rarely, sometimes, and always. Out of this group, 68% said they never talked about their student loans. One student, who attends DePaul University, even mentioned that “I don’t talk about that really….ever. Not even with my parents much”. As college students rarely talk about anything that serious, I wasn’t surprised. What surprised me was hearing that so many of the graduates also didn't talk about their debt. The reasoning behind not discussing student loans varied from being embarrassed to “it’s something I just don’t want to think about right now”, as a graduate from the University of Colorado at Boulder put it.
Student loans aren’t a minor problem, rather they affect more than half the country. If you think about it, 44million Americans have student loans. That’s 44 million people and their families, yet we sweep the subject under the rug. There should be no reason to ever feel alone with this problem because you are not! You are surrounded by other people who share the same pain and frustration you do. You should feel comfortable talking about your student loans as if it was any other issue you might have. So, share your struggles, gain more knowledge and confidence, and build a plan to get rid of your debt to finally start pursuing your dreams.
Rather than putting your head down and suffering through your loan in isolation, get together and talk about the problem that you share with 44 million people. Efficient ways to pay off your student loans have been created by simply sitting down and having a conversation. The best results come when people get together and figure out a solution, so don’t be afraid to talk to people and ask questions about your student loans. Who knows, you might find out about something you never knew!