My generation has seen a lot in our young lifetimes. We are the children of the “Post 9/11 era,” and have already lived through two politically diverse presidential administrations. We also saw our parents grapple with, and triumph over, the economic recession of the 2000’s. But now that my generation is in or just out of college, we’re starting to accumulate our own set of problems.
Student debt continues to increase for millennials, even as unemployment overall has continued to decrease. The unemployment rate currently sits around 5% compared to about 7.8% from the height of the recession, but the youth population does not seem to be benefiting from this relief.
The unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year olds still sits at 14%. This is a troubling number to me. I looked into what our President has done or attempted to do about this growing problem. At a 2015 speech at Georgia Tech, President Obama unveiled the “Student Aid Bill of Rights.” According to President Obama, this plan would “streamline and improve the manner in which the federal government interacts with students.”
My generation has seen a steady increase in university tuition, larger loans and longer payoff periods. Pressing debt is holding many of us back from making important financial decisions, such as buying first homes. According to the Census Bureau, 30.3% of millennials still live at home with their parents.
President Obama’s plan to “expand protections” for student loan borrowers may sound pioneering and promising, but it won’t help millennials deal with enormous loans. Today, 40 million Americans are dealing with student loan debt (many of whom are well out of college). In total, the student debt in the United States is $1.2 trillion. This number has been steadily increasing since the 2008 Recession.
While this “Bill of Rights” may have good intentions, it fails to address the core problems of increasing student loans. At his Georgia Tech speech, President Obama declared every student “Has the right to high-quality, affordable education.” Obama said the goal of the legislation is to start “A conversation to get more folks engaged.”
The Student Loan Bill of Rights paints a promising and inspiring picture for the future of student loans. But university tuition, along with high textbook costs and other fees, continues to rise.
I want my generation to graduate college with the promise of a steady job market. I also want us to have the ability to flourish in our prospective careers, and not have to put off important life steps, such as purchasing a home and planning for other important goals.
The ballooning cost of higher education and the constant fear of paying down debt before we even begin in the workforce is holding an entire generation back from reaching our full potential. Reevaluating the American student loans system is a step in the right direction, but the Student Aid Bill of Rights is not.