Want to know what is so great about April being Financial Literacy Month? It is not the speaking all over the country on different college campuses. It is hearing the many questions from college seniors who had less than a month before graduating. Questions mostly about when do they have to start to pay their loans back and how are they going to pay the debt back. To be honest 98% percent of the questions was "how am I going to pay this debt off?" This is a smart question to have since 2015 graduates had an average student loan debt of $35,000 and 2016 class debt load will definitely be higher. There is one problem with this question.
Why was it not asked earlier than the last semester of college. Like four or five years earlier! After April comes May and so this month I have been receiving calls, emails, and tweets from high school seniors and their parents about how to find scholarships. As I dig deeper into their question I find something much more alarming! They are asking the wrong question! They should be asking "how am I going to pay these student loans back! These high school students or their parents are not asking that question and because they are not asking that question their future is in jeopardy.
Over the past week I have had high school seniors tell me that they know after college they will have $80-$100K in debt, but not to worry because they will be able to pay it off. After screaming loudly inside my head I asked them calmly "How are you going to pay it back?" They look at me with a puzzled look and say "by working." By working where? With who? In what industry? In what state? They don't have a clue the true cost of college and because of that they will be worse off than the college seniors that recently graduated. The ones that contacted me over the past two weeks are lucky because I was able to course correct them before they signed their lives over to debt, but I am worried about the thousands more all over the country.
In order to slow down this crisis I now know that I will have to be in more high schools so that other students don't make the same financial mistakes that those before them have made. It is time to stop the sentence "I wish I would have known this information before going to college!"