The Burden of Debt: Not as Heavy as You Think

The state of Georgia has the fifth largest student debt burden in the nation. 

With the total costs of tuition and fees coming to surface for spring 2019 many students feel the pressure and stress that comes along with applying for loans and grants. While this pressure may present itself to all students, this is especially the case if a student is having to figure it out on their own. 

   Dr. Mitchell McIvor, a professor of Sociology at the University of West Georgia, has spent years researching student debt and the underlying issues associated with it. This work has led him to become a credible source for students seeking advice on how to avoid such debt, as he sees and understands the impact it has on students. 

“I feel that it is much worse for first-generation students, because they do not want to rely on their families,” said McIvor.  

While this may not seem like an issue to some students, first-generation students often feel pressure to show that they can be independent on their own. This pressure, along with outside factors such as varying levels of family income, often pushes these students to avoid asking for help while accumulating debt from student loans. However, depending on the expense of the university, student debt can drastically increase, and this leads to students searching for jobs, in hopes of obtaining enough income to avoid taking out hefty loan amounts. As a result, students begin working long hours and their grades often begin to suffer, especially if the income is a top priority. 

“Another issue is how much education costs; although there are multiple ways to access loans, some students either do not want to use them at all, or too much, and they end up prioritizing income,” said McIvor. “This results in overworking at jobs, increasing the potential for students to drop out or lower their grades.” 

 Dr. McIvor also added that sometimes students become desperate in the labor market once they see how much they owe. Because there is only a six-month grace period upon graduation, students are generally afraid of the immediate repayment of their loans. Most students do not realize that the six-month grace period gives more room to find a job than they think. 

In his research, Dr. McIvor concluded that highly indebted graduates are significantly more likely to prioritize income after graduating over job qualities, like work-life balance, proximity to home and finding the work interesting and fulfilling. However, there are tips that can benefit any student who is experiencing fear related to their loans.  

“Do not stress about them, because the outcomes can be more positive than negative,” said McIvor. “Because there are programs available to get relief, without affecting your credit score, do not worry more about it impacting your future negatively.”  



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