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Financing higher education: borrowing, debt and taking 'poverty-wage' jobs

AUGUST 08 2014: President Barack Obama on the phone in the Oval Office
AUGUST 08 2014: President Barack Obama on the phone in the Oval Office
Photo by Pool/Getty Images

With jobs becoming "more elusive" for graduates, the discussion over whether to borrow money to finance higher education goals may be forcing parents and potential students to re-examine vocational school options.

A report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and cited in a Reuters story earlier this year checked more than 20 years of data. Richard Deitz, an assistant vice president in the New York Fed's Research and Statistics Group, and Jaison Abel, a senior economist in the group conducted the study. They found new graduates are having "... an even tougher time and many are accepting jobs for which they are overqualified, low-wage jobs or part-time work."

Also stated in the report, according to the writer Elvina Nawaguna:

"It is not clear whether these trends represent a structural change in the labor market, or if they are a consequence of the two recessions and jobless recoveries in the first decade of the 2000s."

Worse health, less wealth

An important concern being raised about the issue from the Gallup story is that there is a link between those in debt versus peers who are not, and being less likely to thrive in "four of five elements of well-being: purpose, financial, community, and physical."

The Gallup article, written by Andrew Dugan and Stephanie Kafka, discovered:

"Gallup finds the starkest differences among these groups in the areas of financial and physical well-being. Higher debt signifies lower likelihood of thriving in these two areas of well-being. Graduates who went the deepest into debt to obtain their college degree, for instance, are far less likely to be thriving than graduates who took out no debt, by 15 percentage points in financial well-being and 10 points in physical well-being. The pattern is similar for graduates' sense of purpose, although those who borrowed over $50,000 are just as likely to be thriving in this element as those who borrowed $25,001 to $50,000. The relationship is less straightforward for graduates' community well-being, though again, graduates who took on the most debt for their degree are less likely to be thriving in this element than those who did not take out any loans for their undergraduate education."

The amounts borrowed, according to the story by Dugan and Kafka vary. They state:

"Most degree earners in Gallup's survey graduated with debt: 59% of those graduating between 1990 and 2014 had borrowed at least some amount for educational expenses, including 21% who borrowed between $25,001 and $50,000 and 11% who borrowed over $50,000. The remaining 27% borrowed less than $25,000."

The document they summarized can be found at Gallup/Purdue website.

Vocational school options may be the trend for those struggling with this new normal economy.

The California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education is a state website where higher educational and vocational information can be searched.

See the pdf here.

This state entity came into existence "... on January 1, 2010 following passage of Assembly Bill 48, known as the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 and the bureau "... exists to promote and protect the interests of students and consumers."

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