If you are a Michigander carrying the financial burden that is student loan bills, you already know the struggle. However, where does our struggle compare to the rest of the country? Turns out, we might have it worse than most.

America and Student Loans

To understand where Michigan falls in the big mess that is student loan debt, we first have to understand where the U.S. sits as a whole.

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Back in February of 2021, Forbes reported that in the United States as a whole, there are approximately 45 million student loan borrowers. Collectively, the amount of debt there is about $1.7 TRILLION.

Federally, student loan payments were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and as of August 6th, 2021, Federal Student Aid (studentaid.gov) shares, that the U.S. Department of Education decided to further suspend repayments until January 31st, 2022.

That means borrowers get relief when it comes to figuring out how to pay those loans, interest rates were dropped to zero-percent during this time, and collections on defaulted loans would be stopped. However, you are still able to make payments if you so choose...and more of it goes towards the actual principle of the loan itself.

Michigan's Student Loan Debt

According to research by Wallethub into "2021's States with the Most and Least Student Debt", Michigan ranked in the top 10, coming in eighth.

Source: WalletHub

According to Education Data's breakdown of "Debt by State", last updated on August 12th, 2021, Michigan has a total of 1.40 million student borrowers, totaling about 14% of all residents in the state and $50.7 billion.

WalletHub's research found that what contributed to Michigan's ranking was also the fact the Mitten was tied for fourth-place with New York when it came to unemployment rates for people between ages 25 and 34.

Why This is a Problem

Now, look, we all know the arguments about student loans. "Don't take them out if you don't want to pay them back." Right. "What about all of us who paid ours back?" Okay...

Honestly, can't we all agree it's ridiculous you need this much money to get an education?

Sure, there are trade jobs and this is never to say one career path is better than another. However, if people choose a career you need a degree for, it feels like you are later almost "punished" for it with increasing interest rates and a mountain of debt that feels insurmountable.

I'm not saying to forgive all existing student loans, I know how loans work, I'm just saying there is all of this money unaccounted for. There is all of this money people could be spending and putting back into the economy, improving their quality of life, could be enjoying that salary they spent years in school to get the career to get.

It's not always as simple to be starting out at a job and make enough to basically be able to pay rent twice-over each month. Whether it's an issue of companies not paying their employees enough or that student loan rates are too high in comparison, is a question for someone far better at math than myself.

All I know is that I hope we can collectively come up with some sort of solution that can make this a whole lot easier and put that $1.7 trillion back in the pockets of Americans and back into things that are important to our quality of life.

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