‘Intimidating’ Student Loan Debt Can Hinder Graduates


“The number of kids born from 2008 to 2011 fell precipitously. Fast forward 18 years to 2026 and we see that there are fewer kids reaching college-going age,” said Nathan Grawe, an economist, reported by the Hechinger Report.

[Editor’s note: Names have been changed to protect people’s identity.]

After eight years of working two jobs, living at home, and struggling in the dating world, a 30-year-old college graduate finally paid off all his student loan debt.

The graduate, whose name has been changed but will be referred to as Doug, explained how, in order for him to pay off his $30,000, he made sacrifices that have now put him behind in life. Women were hesitant to date him because he still lived at home, and he worked at two bars (a field that was far removed from his desired career in finances). But after eight years, he became debt free. And that’s when Doug obtained a financially supportive job, as he has now been able to move out and put his student loans behind him.

“The debt sucked, I had to get two jobs in career fields I knew weren’t going to support me long term,” Doug said. “I was lucky I got it paid off sort of fast compared to some who have their debt for 20-plus years.”

For many students, the weight of college loans carries on with them years past graduation. The student debt in Hawaii continues to grow as all residents in Hawaii accumulatively have $4.1 billion in loan debt, according to Experian in December. The state of Hawaii is ranked second-to-last in lowest student debt, which also was reported by Experian.

Student loan debt becomes a stress factor for graduates but also for ongoing full-time students.

A 21-year-old Chaminade student, who asked that her name be withheld, has acquired $68,000 in debt and still has another year to go. To make the money situation less stressful, she has had to get a part-time job, around 20 hours a week, along with being a full-time student, 16 credits.

“Well, it’s always in the back of my mind, especially when I’m thinking about graduation,” said the junior Chaminade University student. “It’s intimidating.”

To attend Chaminade, the yearly tuition is around $24,500, without housing, books, transportation, and meal plan. Including those fees, tuition can cost more than $30,000.

A 20-year-old student of Chaminade University, who transferred here in August due to being homesick, has accumulated $15,000 in student loan debt after attending the school for one year. 

Accumulating debt so easily and so fast adds stress to the daily life of college students who already have other occupations.

I don’t know what I want to do with my life right now. I don’t really like school,” said the Hawaii native Chaminade student. “Maybe when I figure out what I want to do I will feel like it was worth it, but for now no.”

About 69 percent of college students graduate with at least $30,000 student loan debt, according to Student Loan Hero in February.

Student loan debt hinders college students after graduation because of having to pay for regular life necessities along with a certain amount a month toward the debt. College enrollment is dropping by 15 percent, according to the Hechinger Report in September, due to the price of tuition and student loan pricing. Young adults are taking the risk of getting a job without a degree due to it being cheaper, or becoming a part-time student and working a full-time job, as stated by the Hechinger Report.

“It’s worth it, I hope,” said previously mentioned 21-year-old Chaminade student with $68,000 in debt.