Sept. 7, 2015
I’m finally graduating this semester, and it’s bittersweet. Six months from Dec. 18, I’ll have to start paying back $34,000 in loans, with interest, whether I have a steady job or not.
Luckily, there are payment plans, so I can pay back the loans in installments. But, if my career is anything like my dad’s, I’ll still be paying back those loans when I’m in my 50s.
According to the Federal Student Aid website, choosing the Standard Repayment Plan for loans supposedly gets you out of debt after 10 years.
There is also the option to choose a payment plan based off of your income. It’s nice that the federal government takes our money in installments, instead of in one huge chunk.
But what would be even better is if the government waited until we reached a certain income before making us pay back our loans.
According to gov.uk, graduates in the United Kingdom have two options for when they start paying back loans. Plan 1 is for English and Welsh students who enrolled before Sept. 1, 2012 and all Scottish and Northern Irish students. Plan 2 is for English and Welsh students who enrolled on or after Sept. 1, 2012.
In Plan 1, payment doesn’t begin until earning over 17,335 pounds, the current equivalent of $27,042.60. In Plan 2, payment starts after earning over 21,000 pounds ($32,760).
Maybe the U.K. actually sees their students as more than a piggybank. Clearly, their government wants its students to get an education without selling their souls to debt collectors.
A Vice article from June 15 details the differences between paying back student loans in the U.S. and in the U.K. The average U.K. student attaining a three-year degree will pay back a total of 27,000 pounds ($42,000).
Harvard tuition costs $45,278 per year.
The general idea is that students attending Harvard will get wonderful careers and have no issue paying back their loans, but what if they don’t?
Similar to the U.K., Australian students start paying back their loans after reaching an income of 54,126 Australian dollars ($38,779.38), even if they’re still studying.
Yearly tuition in Australia ranges from zero to 10,266 Australian dollars ($7,960 USD).
Several European countries offer free tuition. While this would be ideal, this does come at a high cost to tax payers.
On June 25, Business Insider reporter Abby Jackson wrote that European taxes are higher than U.S. taxes. Free college is possible because “tax payers absorb that cost.”
College enrollment is also less in European countries than it is in the U.S., which means there are less students clamoring for pricy degrees.
So maybe free college isn’t the way to go because I doubt any taxpayer in the U.S. will want to pay higher taxes just to help their future generations gain more knowledge.
The U.S. should follow the examples of the U.K. and Australia and wait until we make a certain amount before hounding us to pay back our loans. Unless they don’t trust us to make the payments, or worry we’ll never reach that income.
We shouldn’t be penalized for wanting a degree.