College Debt

Remember, you American leaders of tomorrow, work hard, get good grades, go to college, and become a slave to debt for the next 25 years of your life. For many high school seniors, debt is the boogieman of the future. (One man in a suit jumped out of the bushes and shouted it while my friends and I were trick-or-treating, and some of us nearly wet our pants.) But really it’s nothing to be afraid of; the U.S. Congress owes over $15 trillion in debt, but they don’t seem very worried. Statistically, by the time you seniors get settled into your careers, you’ll be making a whopping $33,000 a year, with which you should easily be able to pay off your college debt - $20,000 if you’re going to a cheapo school and $33,050 if you’re more ambitious.

In 1990, Columbia University’s in-state tuition came up to $20,000 with room and board. With inflation, that would be $34,720 on today’s market. But let’s be realistic, we live in a difficult age that requires more revenue for administration, tenured professors, and of course college football. Today’s tuition with room and board is for an Ivy League school is right around $54,000 and steadily rising about 8% a year or more, in contrast to the overall U.S. inflation rate of 3.5%. That means that this year’s high school freshmen will only have to pay $68,000 for a year at college. But surely a master’s degree is worth $272,000, right?

That’s reasonable. After all, that’s only eight times what most Americans make in a year, so if you never get fired even once, are never unemployed for any length of time, and put 10% of your monthly income toward paying off your college debt, one could easily have their first year paid off in just two decades, and the full debt after 80 years. Well… perhaps a little longer… if you count interest, then it would take a good deal longer, but right now there’s a law in place that colleges have to forgive these debt after 25 years if the student hasn’t paid it off in that time. I mean, what’s 25 years? During the prime of your life? When you’re not likely to get a stroke? Anyone can see that 25 is less than 80. Seems like a good deal to me.

Then, of course, there’s scholarships. You won’t believe how many people are just GIVING out free money, particularly to my jolly old buddies at my high school. If you’re in a minority group, and/or your parents are poor, then getting all that dough will be a cinch, and you may as well use your pocket money to get “Harvard, here I come!” tattooed to your hip now. I mean, it’s not like the other 9,000 seniors applying for that exact same scholarship are going to beat you to it. Sure, that hungry, one-legged immigrant wants the scholarship more than you do, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to get it. And even if you only manage to get one $50,000 scholarship, $222,000 is clearly less than $272,000.

But if you do get beat out by a mere 10,000 rival students, you can still get grants from the colleges themselves. They’re like loans, but you don’t have to pay them back. All you have to do to get one is be a woman, be a minority, be headed for the military, or be out for a doctoral degree in business or health. So you’ll be sure to get one as long as you aren’t a white male who just wants a master’s degree in computer technology so he can get a job at IBM and start a family. But nobody cares about people like that. Ask Bill Gates.

Really, I don’t see why seniors are so worried about debts and college tuition fees. One must invest substantially to get positive revenue, as those completely legitimate work-from-home emails keep telling me. You have to find a lot of money if you want the education to get a job and make enough to sustain yourself and pay off your education; topsy-turvy as it sounds, that’s how it works in this country. So get those grades up, send in those applications, apply for those scholarships (be sure to fudge them where you can get away with it; the competition is BRUTAL!), and step up for your diploma. Be sure to stop by the front office in two weeks for your leash and collar. It’ll look good on you in your late thirties.





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