Congratulations, my fellow student loan debt owners (or should we be referred to as martyrs?). We have hit the $1 trillion mark. That’s right. $1 trillion in total student loan debt. Or as I like to think of it, enough money to buy a hundred of everything ever created forever and ever.
If there is anything more horrifying than that, and there isn’t much really, it’s going online to see the “student loan debt clock,” and watching a number that is already higher than $1 trillion increase by about $3,000 per second. Per second. It’s up on my computer as I write this, and I’m having trouble wrapping my head around it. By the time I’m finished writing this, another $5 million or so will have been tacked on. It’s truly unbelievable.
I get it, though. I get it because I know that many of us just sort of dove head first into pursuing the “dream,” no matter the (literal) cost. You know — the dream of going to college and immediately getting a job in your field, etc. etc. And that seems worth it.
I think about the board game Life, and how when you had two choices in starting out the game — either beginning with a career or going to college and beginning the game $40,000 in debt — everyone knew it was stupid not to choose college. You’d make that money back in no time on the game board, and you got to choose from the higher-paying career cards than you would without it.
If life was “Life,” it would be unwise to skip college. For some people, it is. For others, I can see the appeal in avoiding the debt — in skipping being a contributor to that $1 trillion — and just going for it out in the “real world.” Many people have been successful this way. And kudos to you.
As I look back, while I would make a few different and less costly college choices — such as starting out at a community college or taking fuller course loads to graduate sooner — I don’t regret my decision to pursue a degree. The cumulative amount of the country’s student loan debt is alarming, and sure, I’ve got some financial catching up to do. I also have the time, and the pride of being a first-generation college graduate. I have one more thing, too: a framed piece of paper with my name on it symbolizing four years of growth and development as a student and as a contributor to society.
On the bright side of reaching the $1 trillion mark, the amount of student loan debt I am personally facing seems much smaller in the big picture. At least I’m not alone — and that makes me feel better.