Lauren Rodriguez sits in her one-bedroom apartment on High Point Terrace, a neighborhood five minutes north of the University of Memphis. The senior early childhood education major takes a break from her project, her third one this week, and takes a deep breath. School has put some stress on the 21-year-old from Collierville, but she says it is the least of her worries. Rodriguez expects to enter the working world with $20,000 of student debt.
43.3 million Americans have amassed more than $1 trillion in student loan debt, and student loan balances are rising faster than any other category of debt, according to estimates from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Wages have risen just 1.6 percent over the last 25 years, after adjusting for inflation, for college graduates. Meanwhile, student debt burdens for college graduates have increased about 163.8 percent. For students, like Rodriguez, these numbers are frightening.
However, Dr. P.K. Jain, a professor in the department of finance at the U of M, says that taking out student loans has some benefits, as long as the student is careful with them.