The burden of student loans increases student anxieties with rising default rates

Bethany Montgomery, Staff Writer

 

Attending public or private university, regardless of size, is an expensive investment. According to the statistic website Student Loan Hero, 69 percent of graduating students in the United States in 2018 took out loans while attending college. The average loan per graduating student was a staggering $29,800 in private and federal loans, and not including Parent PLUS loans. With over 44 million Americans making student loan payments, the number of those in default is relatively high at 11.5 percent. Loans in default, or ones that have not been paid in accordance to the payment plan, can result in loss of benefits, a damaged credit score, and additional fees. The standard of federal loans going into default is typically 270 days, while private loans range between three and four months of missed payments before going into the default stage. However, with tuition rates rising and student debt in the United States at an all-time high, it is unsurprising that default loans are partially responsible.

With the search for career jobs becoming more and more difficult for college students, meeting these demanded loan payments immediately after graduation is harder than ever. Clearly, the additional fees do not hasten the repayment process. 

Mike Brown, a research analyst for Lend.edu, writes that, “the Brookings Institute estimates that 40 percent of borrowers may default on their student loans by 2023. The wider implications this will have on the economy remains to be seen, but one can reasonably assume they will be damaging.” 

Washington State ranks 14th on the lowest default rates in the nation at 9.01 percent in 2016, with approximately 6,000 borrowers in default and 67,000 currently in repayment. At four-year private universities like Saint Martin’s, there are over one million borrowers currently in repayment across the nation. 

In an email to the Belltower, Brown revealed the rate findings about Saint Martin’s. 

“Saint Martin’s University’s student loan default rate was 2.80 percent, which ranked 639 out of 4,425 colleges and universities across the nation from lowest to highest.” 

He also disclosed that the default rate for Saint Martin’s graduates ranked 13th in the state. Despite its low rate, the potential threat of having to pay additional fees on top of loans and interest is a disheartening thought for many college students. 

With the pressure to find a career immediately after college, seniors at Saint Martin’s expressed their anxiety about potentially having their loans go into default. 

Raedel Rivero, a communications major, expressed this fear. 

“I’m genuinely worried about finding a job right after graduation. I understand that loans are typically deferred for six months, however, I have that fear that I need to get a job, find a place to live, and other bills that I need to pay. And I wonder how much am I going to have to put toward my loans. If I have to go on default, I feel like my life will end.”

Brianna Arboine, a biology major, also admitted to feeling pressured by the idea of getting on the career path after school. 

“Worrying about getting a job right after college is really hard because you’re fresh, you don’t know if you have enough experience–you’re brand new.” 

She said, “By then you might not have anything to pay loans, you might need longer than six months…So unless you’ve thought about this and planned ahead, it’s kind of hard to not fall into paying those fees for your loans.”

With the prospect of heavy costs due to defaulting loans, the idea of taking them out in the first place is less appealing to students, but without an attractive alternative.

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