COMMENTARY | I recently ran into a former colleague who has college-age children. Her son had a full scholarship to a good Florida college, but decided to drop out so he could live with a girlfriend in another state.
Meanwhile, she is dealing with employment guilt. She still has her job making a decent salary, but most of her colleagues who were laid off are making at least $20,000 less than they made before the Great Recession. I told her I can completely relate.
She wouldn't dare leave her job in this employer's job market. Moving probably wouldn't help either because it's hard to sell in a buyer's market. Like many people in my generation, she's probably underwater on her mortgage.
Lately, I've heard of baby boomers and silent generation or "traditionalists" ranting about politics and the economy. But, if any generation has cause to complain about the current state of the economy, it's my Generation X.
Taming the tuition beast
I know too many middle-class parents in my generation who are working second jobs to help pay for their children's college tuition. One friend told me both her daughters dropped out of college because their friends were graduating and not getting jobs.
Meanwhile, we hear stories of baby boomer's children that have graduated or dropped out and are saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt.
While lower class people are eligible for Pell grants, middle-class students are not. I wouldn't want to eliminate Pell grants because I think it's positive for society to have some "upward mobility."
However, it's not acceptable that colleges and universities keep hiking up tuition, expecting students to take out more and more loans.
I think the ridiculous costs will end now that some of the Generation X's children are entering college.
My children have tried to minimize the impact of rising tuition costs on our family's finances. My older son has worked hard to save money while my younger son earned his associate's degree under a free dual-enrollment program while in high school.
Colleges, I believe, will soon face declining enrollment number because they won't have the many baby boomer's "boomerang" children anymore.
According to a study from The Center for Work Life Policy in New York that was cited in an article by Psychology Today forty-three percent of Gen X women and thirty-two percent of Gen X men have no children.
A lot of adult college students are there trying to get re-trained for new jobs so there has been a higher demand for college degrees. I predict the demand will decline as unemployment goes down due to the mass exodus of baby boomers from the workplace.
Hopefully, Gen-Xers who waited to have children until later in life won't have to deal with insane tuition costs that my family has had to deal with. But all Gen-Xers will have to deal with an increased retirement age and higher taxes.
Tuition costs aside, there are plenty of other beefs related to the economy that I have no problem blaming on the me-generation seniors. But there are also a lot of positives on the economic horizon. It may just take another 5 to 10 years for the fog to clear.
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