A lot of people across the country are going back to school this fall. But with the unfavorable employment prospects for younger workers some people may be hesitant to take out student loans and get back into debt. Is improving your human capital through further education a good reason to take on debt? Since the cost of education, even just for textbooks, is growing every year if anyone is thinking about going to school it’s probably better to take those courses sooner rather than later.
The Changing Times
In 2002 there was $300 billion Federal student loans outstanding in the US. Today it’s more than $900 billion. Part of this dramatic increase is due to the extended period of low interest rates which creates incentives for people to take on more credit (loans,) as well as the ability to refinance student loans to secure more favorable terms. The other reason is that the western world feels more entitled to creature comforts and luxuries than ever before. Of course I’m generalizing but when our parents went to college their dorms were cheap and dirty. They drank cheap beers. They ate cheap pizza and baloney sandwiches. They saved more of their own money to pay for things instead of using credit cards, or relied on the government for financial aid. If they didn’t have enough cash to buy a TV, they simply wouldn’t buy it. Period. But today young people like myself live in nice apartments. We eat steak, sushi, only drink quality beers, and enjoy posting photos of our Bloody Caesar on Facebook for the world to see. Some people even purchase gym memberships on their credit cards, which puts them further into debt. But it’s okay, because they have to impress their friends right? 😉
There’s a cost to everything. The older generation funded their lifestyles by saving and producing real goods and services. But today most of our lifestyles are funded by debt. The whole world is changing. Debt isn’t seen as a bad thing anymore. It’s actually necessary if we want a normal life. As long as we go into debt for the right reasons and not waste it on frivolous spending then every dollar we borrow today will be an investment in our future. Corporations WANT us to keep spending. Universities WANT more enrollment. Financial institutions make their profits via interest on our debts. Even our governments (despite what they tell us) WANT us to continue carrying debt because if too many people stopped borrowing the economy would slow down.