THE BLOG
08/23/2011 04:48 pm ET Updated Dec 05, 2011

Financial Competence for College Students

Nowadays, college students face more burdens than ever before in history -- as unemployment runs over nine percent and food, gas and tuition prices all take turns skyrocketing -- more and more people are turning back to the books, rather than back to work.

But you guys knew that already. What I bet you didn't you know is that for the first time, the student debt level has exceeded the overall American credit card debt level. This year, U.S. student loan debt is expected to exceed $1 trillion, as it currently sits uneasily at $829.785 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Most secondary education is funded by student loans and credit cards. Many students like, Yoscatirin Evans, a 22-year-old pharmacy candidate at the University of Florida, have maxed out loans and credit cards and are finding it hard to just get by.

Annually, Evans is awarded $30,000 in federal and private loans which covers $20,000 tuition, $5000 on rent, and the remaining $5000 for car insurance, groceries, gas, clothing, social expenses, maintenance and repairs. Currently, Evans has $112 to live off of for the next two months. "It's not enough. I can't apply for another student loan because I'm already in over my head, and I can't get a job because of my heavy course load," she said. "It gets real scary, stressful and hopeless."

One of the reasons the masses have lost financial hope is because of a lack of a proper education. Students don't know how to manage these funds effectively and now groups like the Student Credit Card Education Initiative (SCCE), are helping to educate students on the financial issues that matter to them the most.

The SCCE will host the "Music For Change" event in New York City's Sullivan Hall on August 28, 2011 at 6 p.m. The event will feature the musicians Ellina Graypel, GoldenChild & The Chosen, VJ Chris Landry, and (I am) Isis,who will be sharing their music along with personal finance information and tips for better money management. All of these musicians were drawn to the cause due to their personal finance histories. Like Ellina Graypel, who reached teenage fame in the USSR before moving to New York and declaring bankruptcy. "I was a kid making more money than my parents. We had money, so we spent money. I had no clue about money management...Most of my friends are in their 30s and they still have no clue."

Graypel has worked her way from a financial nincompoop to financial guru. In four years, she has taken her credit score from under 500 to over an 800, and the other day was approved for a small bank loan. "Yes, I have a nice car, but I can afford it. I learned that I can get a car with better interest and lower monthly rates."

Change starts with the people, and I encourage any of you college kids who are drowning in debt to attend and get your belly full of good music and sound financial advice. Hopefully, a crowd of 500 is expected to show. "What this event is doing is creating awareness, and as an artist I can do that. We are musicians, but we got the same places and feel the same pressures like every one else," Graypel said.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce's most recent data, college enrollment for students' aged 18 to 24 years old rose almost three million from 2000 to 2009. The average cost for four years of attendance at a public university is approximately $40,000 to $50,000 and the cost for private universities can exceed over $100,000, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
"Students have been hard hit by rising tuition costs and the governments' ever-tightening of its belt on contributions towards education; students are increasingly feeling the squeeze. Like their predecessors of the '60s, they're using music as a form of expressing their loud and evident dissatisfaction!" said Michael Germanovsky, the PR Director for the SCCE.

At the event, the SCCE plans to share evidently demanded finance knowledge that directly affects students. For example, did you know that bankruptcy protection is no longer available for students who finance their education via private lender student loans? Yes, in 2005, the bankruptcy code was edited to exclude student loans offered by private lenders from being discharged in bankruptcy.

It's becoming increasingly clear that the ability to afford a college education has become near impossible without mortgaging a large part of your future. As more and more students enroll in classes, the average student debt grows more and more. According to a new study by Credit-Land.com, students are seeing debt levels increase, and can continue to expect them to increase in the future. This past decade alone has witnessed a 27% increase in private student loans. From April 2010 to 2011, the average student loan debt increased by six percent, although it varied nationwide. Currently, the national average of student loan debt is approximately $29,572.

Update: This post originally failed to note the blogger's affiliation as a writer for Credit-Land.com, whose work is cited in the piece. It is the Huffington Post's policy that all bloggers disclose any financial interests or professional affiliations that could have a bearing on the content in their posts.