This weekend's graduation ceremonies mark the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. But come Monday, many graduates will have to face the difficult task of paying off their, in some cases, massive students loans. Are they ready?
At Meredith College, graduates have more than the ceremony on their minds. Kathryn Mundt, a dance major, will be graduating with $100,000 dollars in debt. She said, "I don't sleep at night because I'm afraid. They already started sending me bills." She's not the only one. Meredith Massey, Courtney Johnson, and Kristen Gallagher also graduated today from Meredith, and respectively have $40,000, $50,000, and $60,000 dollars in student loan debt.
Parents say, they'll have to shoulder a lot of this burden. Ellen Mundt is Kathryn's mom and said, "I'm extremely worried. I don't know how she's going to pay it back. We'll help her as much as we can but it adds up over the years." Kathryn's dad, Hurbert said, "She leaves college with more or less a house payment."
Jon Dewar is the President of LLG Financial and said the growing student debt problem has a big effect on the overall economy.
"It's a trillion dollar headache for the housing industry. A lot of college grads, can't afford homes. They'd love to buy because rates are low, and it's a buyers' market, but more cases than not they're having to move in with their parents" he explained.
But some graduates say, they're not worried. Meredith Massey said "you got to spend money to make money. People are using their debt as an investment in their future."
Many economists agree. The unemployment rate is still considerably lower for people with a college education. It's estimated that over the course of their career, graduates will earn as much as one million dollars more than those without a degree.
A survey shows graduates in North Carolina the average is almost $21,000 in student loan debt. That's $5,000 dollars less than the national average. 54% of all graduates in our State carry at least some student loan debt.