Sep 212011
 
Authors: Jason Pohl

From the first day of elementary school to the walk across the high-school graduation stage, students are told that if they work hard and get a college degree, success will follow.
But those nice houses and fast cars come at a price –– a price millions of American’s have been overwhelmed with in times of national economic hardship.
According to a recent study from the Institute for Financial Literacy, there has been a rise in the amount of bachelor’s degree holders filing for bankruptcy over recent years, up 21 percent from 2006.
At the same time, the number of those who filed with a high school diploma has
actually decreased by about 8 percent.

“Student loans are almost never dischargeable,” said Bill Zurinskas, a 29-year Fort Collins area bankruptcy attorney.  “I don’t think a lot of students know that. They need to think about that.”

These loans, combined with job loss, have pushed many to accumulate massive credit card debt, pushing them to bankruptcy –– a measure often seen as a last resort and a fresh start.

The nonprofit group’s study comes during one of the country’s worst financial downturns in history –– something those affiliated with the study attribute to lifestyle changes and having to settle for less.

Zurinskas said that he, too, has seen an increase in the number of older, degree-holders filing bankruptcy, which supports the study’s findings. He explained there are the common factors including divorce and job loss, but cited the life-changing financial downturn had a major effect. Upon filing, it remains on someone’s credit report for 10 years.

“People don’t know how to live within their means,” he said, citing that often people have issues adjusting to life with a reduced paycheck.

One person who does know how to live within his means is Nick Terry, a sophomore health and exercise science major. Terry, like many students, relies heavily on student loans to pay for school.
He also works 25 hours each week and is taking a full course load.

Terry said he has already taken an estimated $8,000-$10,000 in loans to pay for his tuition at CSU. He said that managing money is key to staying afloat in these difficult times.

Terry said that between going to work and class several times each day, he has almost no time left at the end of the day.

And then it starts all over.

“You just feel like you’re putting more and more things on your shoulders,” he said. “It’s life, and you get used to it.”

He said that despite mounting student debt and a floundering job market, he remains optimistic about the future of work and paying his debt back.

“It’s always in the back of my head,” he said. But at the end of the day, he added that you just need to “do what you love.”

But not all students remain convinced the money will pay itself back any time soon –– or ever.
Samantha Laux, a senior criminal justice major, says she is considering graduate school, which would delay repayment on her, estimated $30,000 in loans.

Despite the understanding that times are tough, she said she has refrained from falling for the allure of credit cards, which many use as a crutch during tough times in school.

“I never thought about getting a credit card. I have enough debt with school –– that is scary enough.”

Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at news@collegian.com.

By the numbers

Bachelor’s degree holders filing for bankruptcy

2006:
11.2
percent of filings

2010:
13.6
percent of filings

21
percent increase

Graduate degree holders filing for bankruptcy

2006:
4.9 percent

2010:
6.7 percent

Biggest factor: Credit card debt

 Posted by at 4:16 pm

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