In debt for life: Taking decades to pay off a student loan

Sabrine Shaw
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One thing we can all agree on is that getting a quality education is pricey. However, it’s a two-way street that students invest in for their futures. Student debt is something the majority of our youth must experience to receive their higher education and then join the workforce. A concept unknown to previous generations, the crisis of student debt has increased year-by-year. According to Bloomberg, some 44 million American students collectively owe 1.4 trillion dollars in student loans while individually, UK students owe an average of £44,000 ($59,411) once they leave university.

Did these students just make their futures more difficult in order to receive what may be a world-class higher education?


Having an education should be an absolute human right that is not capitalized on to the extent that it has been, with students all over the world paying back their loans until they are well into their late 40s. I can recall when UK university fees spiked in 2012, leaving many students outraged and forced to consider alternatives, protesting until now.

The debate becomes difficult when you try to place monetary value on the education actual you are getting. While the notion of paying for quality teaching (assuring that lecturers and professors are getting paid correctly) is something students can understand and accept, it is extra costs that beg the question, what are we actually paying for?

If you are fortunate enough to avoid debt by self-paying, the prices are still overwhelming and extortionate, in my opinion. In fact, a HSBC annual global report shows that UAE parents are paying on average Dh365,000 ($99,890) for their child's education costs. This makes them the second-highest spending parents globally when it comes to their child’s education.

As if education and studying for your undergraduate or your postgraduate degree is not enough pressure on our youth, the debt makes the experience more daunting. This BuzzFeed video proves just how much students owe in 37 seconds and asks, is it all worth it?

Sebastian Burnside, an economist at NatWest raised the concern about these debts holding back the new generation from getting a mortgage and ever owning a home, saying “compared to previous generations of homebuyers, it will take longer for them to have the income necessary to fund the homes they want to buy.”

Parents and students alike can all agree that a quality education is valuable and worth every penny, the question remains; just how much should we be paying as it is evident that our youth is struggling to pay back loans. Former US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said it perfectly in an interview with The Huffington Post “I think what we need to do is say yes, higher education should be a right.”

One can only hope that we can be student debt-free as our parents once were, until then protests and movements opposing the costs will remain decisive.

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