A woman at a recent Bernie Sanders rally wearing a $226k sign around her neck has gone viral on the internet. In the video, the girl says she is supporting Sanders because she is $226,000 in debt.
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When asked what her major was, the girl says Speech Pathology. “I only want to help people communicate effectively,” she says. Indeed, speech pathology is a noble goal, and according to a US News and World report article, the field is growing:
Job prospects look bright for speech-language pathologists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 28,900 jobs will open up before 2024. Since instances of speech and language impairments increase with age, the BLS predicts that the aging baby boomer generation will spur this job growth. The BLS also cites the increased awareness of speech and language disorders in children as another reason for this job boom.
The median salary for the position is listed at around $71,000 annual salary. While you won’t be buying a yacht anytime soon with those wages, it is certainly a livable one person income in the United States, and could afford a very comfortable lifestyle depending on the cost of living in your area.
So, knowing what the job might eventually pay, surely this student must of done some cost/benefit analysis on this right? I mean if it costs more to get the degree than you’ll be able to reasonable pay back then that would be a problem, right?
— Shailene Woodley (@shailenewoodley) April 16, 2016
Let’s be reasonable and assume in-state, state college tuition. Choosing a school that offers a speech pathology degree at random, the University of Georgia, we see that the estimated cost of attendance is listed at around $25,000 per year. This includes books, housing, and three meals seven days per week. That would put the total cost of college at around $100,000 assuming that this girl had no job, no scholarship, and no help from her parents or any other family members.
So, it looks like this degree can be had from a large, well known college (we found smaller state schools that were as little as half the cost) can be had for just a bit over $100,000, including living expenses. So, where did the other $100,000 go? Keep in mind, a minimum wage job, worked for a modest 20 hours per week, after four years, would equal bring home pay of around $25,000+.
Some might argue she went to a better, private school (I’m not sure if that’s the case). Well, if she isn’t the highest percentile of pay for her job, or, worse yet, doesn’t have a job, was that a good investment?
The problem isn’t the cost of college. There are plenty of affordable, quality colleges in this country. The problem is students taking out loans too large, to pay for schools they don’t need to go to for degrees that don’t carry the earning ability to pay for their initial investment.