Inthe last few posts on UWSA, we’ve been talking about student debt. More than any other financial challenge, even high credit card balances, student loans and debt impact the lives of millions of young people on the long term. With tuition rising each year, and the job market unsteady, some experts are recommending systematic change to help students who are dealing with creditors and trying to establish themselves financially. Should college students consider staying at home a year after graduation?
Post-Graduation Options and Your Finances
In the U.S., there’s a long tradition of uprooting and moving far from home at a fairly young age, with college serving as a “practice run.” But many students do not now have the savings or job security it takes to make a down payment on a home and obtain a mortgage at favorable terms. Further, with friends in the same situation, roommates may not necessarily be able to keep up with their part of a rental agreement. What to do? Establishing yourself for about a year in your home community can help contribute to long-term stability, but it’s not the only route. Here are some options considered.
If possible, stay in school. One of the best places to weather a recession is in graduate school, especially if your agreement to attend is made before the economy “bottoms out.” Generally, universities sign contracts with graduate students that are binding and result in a substantial level of financial support, in exchange for academic progress and some teaching responsibility. This amounts to a secure “job” and, often, favorable living conditions in an area that benefits from the university’s presence. On the other hand, pursuing graduate study mid-recession can be more difficult.
Consider staying at home. Grace periods for student loans quickly expire, and can raise your monthly cost of living by hundreds of dollars. Seeking employment close to home can eliminate some recurring expenses and allow you to pay down common household bills like high credit card balances that might have built up during college, eliminating recurring payments. Temporarily staying at home may also count favorably in attempts to get consolidation loans, as you’ll have been at the residence for longer, and pay less. You’ll also have the benefit of being able to search for work in an area you’re familiar with; and should the worst happen and you find yourself underemployed, you’re likely to qualify for unemployment deferments for your federal student loans.
Evaluate the job market carefully. If you do plan to move soon after college, don’t rush! Network with former professors, bosses, co-workers, and other students to get leads for work. Narrow down your options by finding out the average rent and cost of living in areas you might want to live or might become employed. Consider seeking professional help from a career consultant to write and develop your resume and your interview skills. And save, save, save! It’s never too early, or too late, to begin building an emergency fund, and there are always unexpected expenses when you move. The best possible situation may be to start with a company “at home” and seek a transfer into your desired area in the future, after you’ve built up some social and professional capital at your workplace. Though this isn’t always possible, try to consider your options on the long term, with your budget in mind.