A few years ago, when the economy first began to shift downward, many adults who faced potential lay-offs or job insecurity decided to shore up their skills by returning to school.
But as Riverside Bankruptcy Attorney Vincent Howard of HOWARD LAW is now seeing, those individuals are now recent graduates, grappling with a mountain of debt and competing for paltry job prospects.
This is not to say that higher education doesn't have a great deal of value. It's true that the person with a college degree is, on average, going to earn about $415 a week more than someone who solely earned a high school degree. Plus, those with a college degree have an unemployment rate of about 4 percent, which is about half of what it is for high school graduates.
In California, the overall unemployment rate is higher than the national average, standing this month at 10.7 percent.
Unfortunately, a college degree is no guarantee or promise that a job will be waiting on the other side. It can be particularly frustrating for people who may have held steady work before the recession, but now, with a degree, they have few options.
And new college grads have something those other workers don't: mountains of student loan debt. When you have that bill competing with your other basic expenses, it is very easy to get in over your head.
This is where a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help. Although student loan debts are difficult to include in the discharge, what such a measure will do is allow you to erase all or most of the other debts you racked up during college. Doing this will free up your expenses enough to more easily afford your school debts.
One Riverside man's ordeal, recently profiled by NBC News, involved a decision to return to school in his late 20s fora degree in psychology. At the time, he had been working with a health care company for about $20 an hour. It was a decent job, but he didn't see himself making any advancement in the field. A single father of young, twin sons, he felt it made sense to advance his education and further his job possibilities.
For a while after graduation, it seemed like things might be going Ok. He had earned an undergraduate degree, a graduate degree and was close to earning his MBA. He landed a job in social work, and although it payed less than he was making before, he liked the work.
But then he got laid off. He's had spotty success ever since. He now makes $18 an hour - $2 less than what he made before going back to school. Plus, he's got $80,000 in student loan debt.
What it all boils down to is this: you must choose your major carefully. There was a recent study conducted by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce which concluded that certain majors tend to provide a more clear path to success than others. For example, those with degrees in fields like engineering and business tended to do much better than those who chose fields such as social science or the arts.
It's unfortunate that some schools would continue to churn out thousands of degrees in fields where students aren't likely to land a job. But they do. So you must be a savvy consumer.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by debt, we can help.
Riverside Bankruptcy Attorney Vincent Howard at HOWARD LAW can help. You can reach us toll-free at 1-800-872-5925 or send us a message online.
Economy leaves many returning students disappointed, deep in debt, Sept. 20, 2012, By Allison Linn, NBC News
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