Staying Afloat

We all know that ancient Chinese teaching a man to fish proverb:

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Well here’s the modern take on it for recent grads:

“You give a student a loan today and s/he can pay for college.

After they graduate they will be paying back that loan for a great portion of the rest of their life – maybe…”

A huge looming question is how is this generation of young adults going to pay this back? So, let’s break it down.


Below are approximations of living costs for grads that either try to immediately enter the workforce or are no longer eligible for deferment for whatever reason.

You will see that many will barely stay afloat.

Most young adults are either unemployed or have some sort of minimum wage/part-time job [IF they are lucky] that has nothing to do with their degree (the very reason they took the loans out in the first place).


So, let’s say the minimum wage is $7.50

And the recent college grad gets a minimum wage job that lets them work 40 hours a week [please keep in mind that they are not necessarily getting direct job experience in their field unless they studied business and minus developing people and communications skills.)


Their Total $ earned per month = $1200 (gross income)

Approximate Monthly Cost of Living

Loan Payment (Based on one of the offered payment plans): $400 a month for the next approximate 10 years (if you pay on time)

Rent (if they are not w/parents or crashing or couch surfing) – about $700 a month

Utilities: (water, electric, internet, laundry, kitchen and bathroom appliances (soap, shampoo, toilet paper, paper towels) $150 a month

Cell phone: (Needed for potential job apps/interviews, networking, keeping in touch w/ family/friends, and for emergencies) $30 – $50 (using the $30 for the total below)

Food: $150 a month

Public Transportation (cause can’t afford a car or insurance: $200+  per month

Fun (subjective activities): [You can’t be expected to have no funds for fun you’d go crazy –  it’s for mental health]: $100 per month

Emergency Funds (even if you are one of the lucky ones and have additional savings it is always safe to have some extra money just in case you never know): $200

Total Monthly Spending: $1780


$1200 (gross income) – $1780 (Total Money $ Spent) = -$580 (net income)

Even if the monthly loan payment was removed, the recent grad would STILL be in debt for the month.

$1200 (gross income) – $1780 (Total Money $ Spent) = -$580 (net income) + $400

= -$180

So, after calculating the potential under-budgeting we try to think what can we cut back on?

First, please add the loan payment back in because (you SHOULD pay it – if you don’t it’s terrible for your credit, credit is VERY important). So we are back at -$580.

Then we look at cutting out components that “may” be debatable such as:

– Cell phone: +30

– Fun (subjective activities): +100

– Internet part of utilities: +50

– Some food: +50

– And some Emergency funds (which is not a great idea): +100

Total New Additions: +330

-$580 + $300 = -$250

– The recent grad will be STILL be under budget by $250

Another option is moving back in with their parents or maybe a friend/other relative has space.

– If they live at home, then they can potentially save on rent and utilities.

+$700: Rent

+ 150: Utilities

Total savings = $850

So based on the previous component cuts…

-$250 + $850 = $600

Finally, they are not under budget and perhaps they can either save the $600 or reallocate it to paying their cell phone and internet bill for basic communication and job hunting or whatever they’d like.

Almost everything listed in the “Approximate Monthly Cost of Living” below is necessary and explains why so many more people live with their parents today (and are now being dubbed the “boomerang generation”). It’s not necessarily about being lazy; it’s about what they can afford, keeping up with loans, and trying not to become homeless.

This is a scary reality. Taxes, health insurance (a whole separate debate), printing costs for resumes, new clothes when old clothes get worn out were not even included for all of the estimations.

Another option to cope with the budgeting issue is having multiple jobs or praying your boss will give you over time or more hours. But if both pay around minimum wage, in order to minimally get around $1800 a month to be able to afford the $1780 monthly approximate cost of living evaluation; the recent grad would have to work 60 hours between the two minimum wage jobs.

These are jobs the recent grad probably doesn’t love, that underutilized their skill set, and will not help advance their chosen career path. These young adults are basically living pay check to pay check.

60 hours is a lot to work, which can be exhausting a terrible for your health [maybe they should pulling all-nighters from college to their resume]. It is possible, for example doctors and lawyers work at least that amount, but they get paid a whole lot more than minimum wage.

Do we really expect our recent grads to sacrifice, food or shelter to pay back loans and just to get by? Or their ability to get a job to get them out of their unemployment hole? I hope not.

I think better options include making college more affordable, not doubling student interest loan rates, and finding new ways to handle current and future student debt (which will certainly be discussed in greater depth in an upcoming post)


Posted on July 10, 2013, in Drowning in Loans and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


Studying the Holocaust in Paris, France

"You have a responsibility to pass on to your fellow black women any information that has liberated your thinking!"


A glimpse into the life of an amateur triathlete.

Texan in DC

A topnotch site


Dealing with ca$h money in your twenties

The Zoetic Zone

The place for all things eco, geo, and inter

The Blog of Author Matthew Lopez

Life exeriments and experiences

In my head...

Larianne's Life




Just another site


This site is the cat’s pajamas


A fine site


This site is the cat’s pajamas

Ryan Dahlke

Just another WordPress site

Education Advocate's Log

Thoughts on how to transform the education system.


Your complete resource for student loan consolidation legislation info

Scholarship Opportunity

Get a college degree without drowning in student loan debt.


How To Escape The Student Loan Trap

Tara Madden-Dent, Ph.D.

USA University and College Study

TED Blog

The TED Blog shares interesting news about TED, TED Talks video, the TED Prize and more.

Student Of Debt

A Tale of Student Debt in America


Academic Performance Platform

Living Ethnography

Research and Conversations on Ethnography, Writing and Folklore

Broke But Loving It

Living and Loving the Life of a Broke Twenty Something

Lyle Yorks

Strategic thinking and learning for a complex world

Coffee Stains and Paper Cuts

A look at modern office life

Matt on Not-WordPress

Stuff and things.

The Lockean

Dedication to the Philosophy of Freedom

A Progressive's thoughts

Just another site

CBS Connecticut

News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and the Best of Connecticut


Financial and Operational Issues in Higher Education


A topnotch site

Redhawk500's Blog

Important News Events Focused

Women Leading in Higher Education

leadership is personal growth in progress


Does the Constitution Matter for Students? Why being polliterate is necessary in today's world


Because Education Policy Matters

Critique Allowed

Rhizomatic Thoughts & Reflections...

CT River Educator

History, Education, and General Observations

International Education News

What's new, what's good, and what's effective in education around the world

%d bloggers like this: