Jan 272011
Authors: Shane Rohleder

It’s been paid for by student loans; the “it” being my life over the last six years (don’t judge, I’m slow).

Everything from the text books to the poster of Johnny Cash flipping off anybody who walks into my apartment –– student loans bought it all.

According to the website Projections on Student Debt.org, the average debt for college graduates is currently at $24,000; that’s up 6 percent from 2008’s figures.

Luckily, for those of us strapped with big loans facing a rocky, uphill job search in the near future, the economy is beginning to turn around. John W. Greene, regional economist for the Northern Colorado Business Report, wrote in a recent column, “the job recovery in Northern Colorado is slowly gaining strength and I think will increase in momentum in late 2011 … unemployment should drop back to near the 6 percent level, maybe lower, depending on migration.”

Anybody who has tried to secure a decent paying job in Fort Collins should know that if the economy is turning around in here, the rest of the U.S. can’t be far behind.
With this in mind, and job prospects on the rise for the first time since the 90s, let me put a positive spin on our student loan crisis by inciting you to think about all the things you wouldn’t have been able to do if it weren’t for all those fake dollars attached to your name.

For me, I think of that wild time at Stonehouse (R.I.P., we miss you), with the face paint and the women’s restroom and the bouncers. This one is ironic because it wasn’t even me who found himself in a web of pending indecent exposure lawsuits –– it was my unemployed roommate who I happened to be buying drinks for that night. Ipso facto, my student loans paid for it.

Ah, my soul is filled with rest in the midst of surmounting debt when I recall the time where, after nine or 10 PBRs, my roommate and I returned to our apartment with a “For Rent” sign and a Westword newspaper stand, which, bless it, was destroyed along with an incalculable number of drinking glasses. Blessed be you student loans!

When not being used to buy beer, student loans have been used for purchasing goods and services, such as: a full tank of gas for my 1979 GMC camper van in order to journey up Interstate 70 to Copper Mountain for overnight ski trips. Or, enough Little Ceasars pizzas to make a coffee table out of (which inevitably had to be disposed of due to a Black Widow taking residence in box one).

And the list is goes on and on, as I’m sure many of yours do. And you may be thinking, “Yeah that was fun, but I still am going to have to pay back $20,000 in debt upon graduating you over optimistic and unrealistic liberal arts major!”

If so, let me illuminate the cold hard facts. You might see just how positive I (we) should be about graduating.

According to an article on Forbes.com, 60 percent of new college graduates are strapped with debt surmounting $20,000. This means that more than half of every college graduate is in the same shoes that you may or may not be, so remember, you are not alone.

Further, for a traditional undergraduate who has borrowed the maximum amount under current federal loan programs — $23,000 in federal subsidized and unsubsidized for students who are still their parent’s dependents — the monthly payments are estimated to be around $276 per month. Paying this amount should be manageable for someone making approximately $35,000 per year, and leave extra income for future “good investments,” like a house or a business loan.

Pizza and beer, face paint and real estate signs, and even the whole school part; I’d say it’s been worth it.

Shane Rohleder is a senior journalism major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:06 pm

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