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College debt soars
Alex Morales
Antelope Staff
Photo from Internet
College tuition has soared $429 higher than last years costs.
Info graphic by Staff

Student loans have gone from being a last resort to being the only way to fund a college education. Two-thirds of college students borrow money today.

According to The Wall Street Journal, in the 2008-2009 school year the federal government loaned students $75.1 billion—25 percent more than the year before. The average debt load for students is a little over $23,000.

So what life implications do college graduates face with the debt load of an expensive diploma?

According to political science professor John Anderson, post-college life will require graduates to take a different approach to the “American Dream.”  

“People will have to put off home purchases or try to take on too much debt, which could lead to an increase in bankruptcies,” he said.

The reason for the increase in college debt: soaring numbers in tuition rates. According to College Board, a Web site dedicated to connecting students and parents to the college environment, average in-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions this year is $7,020, $429 higher than last year. Average total charges, including tuition and fees and room and board, are $15,213.

Jasen Nickman, Omaha, a 2008 graduate with a bachelor’s in psychology, is one of the thousands with a debt load. His debt is over $24,000. With such a responsibility, he has been forced to go back home and be a farmhand, where he can earn more than he would with his degree.

“If I didn’t have to worry about paying so much, I would go somewhere where the opportunity to work with my degree would be better,” he said. But his debt ties him down. “There isn’t anything wrong with working on the farm; it’s just that five years ago, it was definitely not what I envisioned,” he said.

A weak economy that makes it difficult to land an entry level job, and college debt has dubbed recent college graduates as boomerang kids. A poll by collegrad.com showed that 80 percent of graduates move back home.

Nickman pointed out that by the time things straighten out, he will be older, making it harder to find a job when employers can hire someone younger and fresh out of college. With thousands of college graduates in a similar situation, the “American Dream” is gradually becoming a nightmare for those who should be living it — and a fantasy for those who are about to begin their quest for it.

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