Students Worry about Debt Relief as Parents Struggle

New poll highlights economic woes of college students

(photo by flickr)

(photo by flickr)

According to a new poll conducted by the AP and mtvU, college students today are more worried than ever before about debt relief. Although summer is reputed to be a time of partying for college students, most are too stressed out the economy to even think about enjoying the summer.

For example, according to the poll, Josh Donahue, an economics major from Oregon State University, is on food stamps. He is the first to graduate from college in his family, but he’s still living with relatives to get by. He said, “A degree in economics doesn’t really prepare you to understand the economy very well.”

Watching their parent lose jobs

Although a college degree is a huge accomplishment for anyone, the nation’s economy is tarnishing the expected success of young people fresh out of college. The nation has lost more than 5.7 million jobs since 2007 and families are feeling the uncertainty of financial collapse. In the AP/mtvU study, almost 20% of those polled had seen at least one parent lose his or her job.

Turning the economic tables

It’s normal for parents to worry about their children getting the right job. But the economic slowdown has forced the tables to turn, and children are now worrying their parents’ finances as well as their own. One student, Jake Lear of George Mason University, stated, “I’m pretty much independent [financially]…where [my parents] would normally help me out with cash here and there they don’t so much anymore, just because money’s so tight.”

Changing the norm

The new economy has pushed the typical college student to morph from a carefree youth into a much more money-conscious individual. The AP/mtvU poll showed that many college students today are working two and three jobs to put themselves through college and, if possible, send funds home to help their parents.

For instance, biology major Buchi Akpati said, “I go to class, study in between class, go to work, study at work, go to my other job, Mary Kay, do some facials, sell some products, study in between, go back to my dorm, study and eat at the same time, work online at the same time, study afterwards from 2-6 am, then sleep, and then wake up and do the same thing.”
Akpati’s lifestyle is becoming typical of today’s college students. They are riddled with worry about the future, finances, debt relief for themselves and their parents, and the economy.

Taking a closer look

The poll also showed that:

  • 22% of students are worried about having funds to get through each school week and 30% are worried about their parents’ finances
  • 20% of students will go straight into graduate or professional schools because of concerns that a bachelor’s degree may not help them achieve an adequate salary in the competitive job market
  • 11% have deferred graduate school due to parent’s financial problems
  • 32% noted an added stress because of financial issues
  • Almost 30% were denied summer internships

Heralding a new class of college students

With statistics like this, a new type of class college students is born. These new students not the stereotypical summer-break aficionados and they do not have lighthearted attitudes about the future. Rather, they realistically envision the future against the backdrop of the recession. Debt relief, making ends meet, and multiple jobs are carrying these students through their college years as they look to an uncertain economic future.

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