debt, loans

Musing today about America’s young families

My bedside table is stacked high with books for me to get to, but lately those that are holding my interest have a lot to do with money. Not the love of it, mind you, but how we as a country have gotten to the point where families are staggering under a mountain of credit card debt, student loans, car payments and so on.

We’re beginning a new ministry at Calvary called the Money Mentors. This team of eight will be available soon to help people get back on track financially in private sessions. So in preparation for this new ministry, I have been doing a lot of outside reading. Two books which have moved off the tables and into my hands and brain are Linda Kelley’s Two Incomes and Still Broke? It’s Not How Much You Make, It’s How Much You Keep and Tamara Draut’s well-researched tome’, Strapped: Why America’s 20- and 30-somethings Can’t Get Ahead.

Strapped, while I am still reading it, has already provided some food for thought. My older children face the issues she addresses. According to her book, The average college student borrows $20,000 for a bachelors degree, while the average graduate student accumulates $46,000. And low-income students and students of color take on even more. Federal grants for student aid have rapidly declined since the 1980’s and now federal help for college comes mainly in the form of loans.

In addition, according to a Nellie Mae study (one of the Sallie Mae student loan companies), the average college senior had six credit cards and an average balance of just over $3,200 in 2002. College students are heavily marketed to by the various credit card companies. The top 300 state schools in the country received $1 billion from the credit card companies in marketing arrangements.

It’s a depressing financial picture, isn’t it? You are starting your new life as an adult already deeply in debt. Putting those two debts together, debt load for new college graduates could easily reach $25,000 eating away 40 – 60% of the income from the new job. Add on to that the new car, the furniture for the new apartment and you’re drowning in debt within no time!

Draut also points out that Gen Xers and Milennials have mostly retreated from the political arena so there is no one pushing for economic reform for this age group. Instead, congress is being lobbied by the credit card companies who made almost $8,000,000 in political contributions in the 2004 election cycle.

More to come…..

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