Scrolling through Twitter this morning, I came across a rather hyperbolic statement by Time Magazine. The tweet simply read “Here is proof the class of 2015 is the most spoiled ever,” with a link to a short article regarding how much money the class of 2015 received in gifts. Gifts–mostly in the form of cash–rose from $4.7 billion in 2014 to $4.8 billion in 2015, thus necessitating Time’s declaration that the class of 2015 is spoiled rotten.
Sadly, Time fails to acknowledge the number of students who will take out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans to pay for a higher education. College is the way to a prosperous future–or so we were told–and those that can’t afford to attend college quickly turn to student loans. As of November 2014, the average student loan debt hit $30,000, but that number isn’t all that shocking. According to a 2012 study by the Institute for College Access & Success, 66 percent of graduates from public colleges had student loan debt. That number rises to 75 percent for those graduating from private nonprofit colleges and universities and hits a staggering 88 percent for graduates of for-profit colleges.
When you consider all student loan debt in the United States, the level reaches something almost unfathomable by the average person: $1.2 trillion dollars. Yes, trillion with a “T.” When Time Magazine calls the class of 2015 the most spoiled class of graduates ever, perhaps they should consider the rising cost of college tuition and how students are now forced to pay for their education.
According to CollegeData.com, the average cost of in-state tuition and fees during the 2014-15 academic year was $23,410, while tuition and fees at an average private college hit $46,272. For those keeping score, that’s $93,640 for 4 years at a public school and an astounding $185,088 for 4 years at a private school. Spoil the class of 2015 all you want, but for an average high school graduate to pony up that kind of money is nearly unbelievable.
Sure, plenty of parents bestow their spoiled children with the funds to receive a college education, and bless the children fortunate enough to have parents that can afford that kind of financial cost, but for most, that’s simply not the case. Millennials like to joke about the Boomers who like to say that they worked a summer job to afford their college tuition; I’d like to see the same Boomers attempt to do that now. Unless you’re trading stocks, or already have a job paying you enough money to avoid having to go to college in the first place, a summer job will not cover college tuition. Perhaps it’ll cover a few books, but it won’t make a dent in the nearly $12,000 you’ll need to pony up just for fall tuition.
There are plenty of reasons why college tuition is skyrocketing, unabated, but that’s not a conversation for this post. The words here are for those who feel entitled enough to once again trash talk to the current generation of Americans. Yes, many of us may be entitled brats, but it’s the Boomers who raised us. For those who are not entitled, the struggle to pay back one’s loans is enormous. While interest mounts, many students struggle to find decent entry-level positions following college, and in some cases must take unpaid internship after unpaid internship with the hope that it will one day become a full time, salaried job.
So yes, the class of 2015 may be living large before the enter college classrooms across the country, but once the loans start piling up, so does reality. If the class of 2015 wants to get ahead in life, they’re not the most spoiled class in history, they’re just another class in a series of classes that might be the most unfortunate generation in recent history.