So, I graduated college over 6 years ago now, luckily, with a degree I’m actually using. Some people aren’t as fortunate to be able to use the degree that they pay tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As I was sitting here on this Sunday morning, scrolling through twitter, a push notification from Facebook popped up. It was something from the alumni group where I went to school. It was someone asking the tuition to attend in 1980. The answer: $450 a semester. Sounds outrageous right? I mean $450? I could use one credit card to pay for all of my college and all of my wife’s college and have all of my student loan debt on one card.
Now, some people are probably thinking, “well, the dollar was worth more in 1980 and there’s inflation to think about.” Yes of course there is. I wouldn’t be a good journalist if I didn’t think about that. Am I calling myself a journalist now? Fuck, yeah. Why not? With the amount of money I paid for my degrees ($110,000 of student loan debt), I am going to label myself with every career and damn hobby I have. I’m a speech pathologist, blogging, author, researcher, with a side of journalism, who chefs and bartends to make the ends meet? Fuck it, I have to do everything I can to pay off these student loans and afford rent and be able to save to buy a stupid house, cause you’re not an adult unless you have mortgage debt too. Oh, and by bartend, I mainly meaning cracking beers for myself.
So, what does inflation say about college tuition. Now, I may be a bunch of things, but I’m by no means a financial connoisseur. But, let’s just look at college tuition related to purchase power of the dollar, because if we really think about the people who use their college degrees for work, we are purchasing a piece of paper that says we can do our jobs. Other people may be going to college for the experiences. I experienced A LOT in college, but the only thing I truly left with was a piece of fucking paper that allows me to work, and knowledge of course, but the piece of paper is very important to secure the job.
$20 in 1980, has the same purchasing power that $62 has in 2019. So, essentially the dollar is worth a third of what it was worth. I’m aware that this is a basic analysis. But, I’m going to make this very fucking simple. If the tuition where I attended college was $1000 a year in 1980 and now, forty years later, it cost me $22,000 per year, that is 22 times as much money, where as the dollar has only changed times three. College should maybe cost $3000 a year? I would even take double that, at $6000 a year.
Every piece of financial advice I get is to pay off my debt. No shit, right. By the time I get past this step, I’ll be thirty years old ish and that would be lucky. Which is about the scariest sentence I’ve ever written. As a millennial, a snow flake, a boomer’s baby, whatever you want to call me, student loans are bullshit and debilitating.
I’ll keep fucking plugging away though, this way, one day I can pay triple what I paid so that my kids can go to school, too. That’s the real american dream. Debt. Maybe, one of these democrats will get in office and erase my debt. That would be something. May cause a financial disaster, but hey, at least I’d be in good shape.