It’s becoming increasingly common for massive debt to coincide with earning a degree.

Earlier this year I opened up about my own plight with student loans.

In short: The funds I secured to pay for my collegiate dreams turned into my post-graduate nightmare.

I'd rather wear a winter coat in hell than deal with my student loans.

As a result of my confession I’ve been called everything from a victim to an idiot, yet no matter how you want to judge me I wouldn’t wish the burden of tens of thousands of debt on anyone.


Sadly, an entire generation of young people will soon join me in that peril.

New figures from the U.S. Education Department show that federal student loan disbursements grew about to $75.1 billion in the 2008-09 academic year. That’s a 25% increase from the previous year.


Robert Shireman, deputy undersecretary of the Education Department, told the Wall Street Journal that the sharp growth is “definitely above expectations.”

While he did note that “we’re also in an economic situation that nobody predicted,” it doesn’t negate the fact that the bulk of these young people don’t realize the long-term effects of their short-term financial decisions.


Once the economy finally does turn around students will still be stuck with student loan bills that may amount to a payment as small as a car note or as high as a mortgage payment on a luxury condo.

Today the average debt load is $23,186, according to an analysis of the government's National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, conducted by financial-aid expert Mark Kantrowitz.


A dozen years prior that figure was $13,172.

And this is simply from government aid.

There is also the private student loan industry that is currently helping usher in future financial ruin for college students across the country via loans with higher interest rates and harsher restrictions on forbearances and other deferment options.


The debt incurred in college poses huge ramifications for the futures of many college graduates. It can affect everything from whether or not one can afford health insurance to if a person will qualify for car and home loans.

Loan debt can even factor into people’s plans for marriage and children.

As great as President Obama’s non-communism interest spurring speech was, I’m curious as to when someone will offer another speech on our education system. Namely one that gets real on the real costs of higher education.


The idea has always been that if you take out loans to pay for college, you will nab a job and pay everything back.

Too bad that notion is becoming as big a story as ones our President was encouraging school children to read.


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Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.