The Student Loan Crisis
Just in time to conclude our mini-series, "How to Survive the Coming Economic Crisis," comes a headline warning of the mounting student loan crisis. (Spoiler alert—before you despair, practical counsel for managing those educational debts follows below.)
According to NBC News, the total student loan debt in this country now stands at $1.47 trillion (more than credit card and auto debt), with one in 5 Americans carrying student loan debt. Notice though a new shift in demographics: "Most Americans with student debt are young. But adults 60 and older — who either struggled to pay off their own loans or took on debt for their children or grandchildren — are the fastest-growing age cohort among student loan borrowers. The number of Americans over the age of 60 with student loan debt has more than doubled in the last decade" (www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/student-loan-statistics-2019-n997836).
How big are the loans?
• The average monthly payments on student loans range from $200 to $300 (according to the Federal Reserve).
• More than 75% of borrowers owe less than $50,000.
• "The national default rate, a U.S. Department of Education measurement of the number of borrowers who start repayment, then default in the next two to three years, was 10.8 percent among those who started repayment in 2015, the most recent data available" (ibid).
So is defaulting on a student loan the answer? Hardly. Penalties for defaulting are steep and include garnished wages and tax refunds taken. But there's "good" news. "For borrowers who can't afford to make their regular payment, the government offers payment plans that are tied to their household income" (ibid). Unfortunately fewer than 20 percent of borrowers participate in these plans.
To paraphrase Paul, "Who will deliver me from this body of [debt]?" (Romans 7:24). But do not despair!
Instead, check out the practical strategies NerdWallet offers for paying off student loans, including their student loan payoff calculator (www.nerdwallet.com/article/loans/student-loans/pay-off-student-loans-fast). Good Financial Cents promises help: "Here are 9 of the best strategies from recent grads you can use to pay off your student debts sooner and move on with your life!" (www.goodfinancialcents.com/pay-off-student-loans-faster). Help is out there—you don't have to drag this ball and chain forever—so seek help now.
But the most significant financial principle of all isn't listed in most website debt solutions. Jesus offers this divine counsel: "'But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well'" (Matthew 6:33).
Who more than God desires our financial peace? Then surely the One "who's got the whole world in His hands" already has a solution in mind to take care of you, too . . . if you'll seek Him first. "Make Me the C-suite leader (CEO and CFO) of your life, and let Me open for you 'the floodgates of heaven' (Malachi 3:10)!" What an offer! Cheerfully make Him your first financial priority, "and all these things will be given to you as well."
A century and a half ago John D. Rockefeller, the oil tycoon, and philanthropist remarked: "I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 a week." The best time to begin making God first in your life is not when your debts are paid, when your finances are strong, when your needs have been met—the best time to make God first is right now!