Krista Boshinski is in “horrible, horrible debt.”
The senior theater major, whose parents aren’t “financially equipped” to provide the cash for every facet of her college life, needs loans to pay for her education and four credit cards she uses for living expenses.
“I’m in two different worlds of debt,” Boshinski, 22, said. “Tuition and all that stuff world, and then, there’s credit card debt world. The two are going to merge when I graduate, which is absolutely terrifying.”
Today’s economic woes tend to bring out the worst in any situation, and there is no silver lining in debt. As college students continue to pass the buck, the burden becomes insurmountable.
In a 2005 study conducted by Nellie Mae, the average undergraduate was found to have an outstanding credit card balance of $2,169.
Boshinski has credit cards for Gap, American Eagle and Target. She is nearly $2,500 in credit card debt.
“I am a girl,” Boshinski said, “so there are times when I just need to buy a shirt, but I’m definitely not one of those girls who are like, ‘Oh my God, look at that $500 Coach purse, I have to find a way to have it.’ I’ve been paying the minimum payment because I don’t have the money to pay more, so it just stays at that limit and accumulates interest, which is even worse.”
The ambitious actress doesn’t have time to get a job after school due to rehearsals on nights and weekends, so she relies on tuition reimbursements to get her through each semester. During her first three years at school, she lived in an apartment with a friend, taking care of her own bills.
“I took out my first couple credit cards to try and establish credit,” Boshinski said. “My major one is a Capitol One card, which has a $1,500 limit that has been at the max limit for months and months now.”
Boshinski said she used the cards for groceries and taking care of her two cats.
“Unfortunately, being a student is so hard these days,” she said. “I’m just trying to maintain a mentality where I will take it one day at a time, try and make all of my minimum payments until I can do more, and that’s the best I can do.”
Seventy-four percent of undergraduates reported using credit cards for school supplies, the No. 1 reported use of cards, according to Nellie Mae. The second most common use of credit cards reported by undergraduates was a tie between textbooks and food, with 71 percent reporting these as charged expenses. Slightly less than 24 percent reported using credit cards for tuition.
Fortunately, Boshinski learned her lesson on buying extravagant things or wanting to splurge on new items.
“I got a Target card with a $500 limit because we needed furniture in our apartment my first year,” she said.
Boshinski now lives at home with unneeded furniture and an outstanding limit on her Target credit card.
Undergraduates reported freshman year as the most popular time for getting credit cards, with 56 percent reporting having obtained their first cards at age 18.
At 18, students will pay for anything using their credit cards – food, clothes, tickets, all-terrain vehicles and, yes, even furniture.
If you can’t wait until you’re gainfully employed to enjoy the fruits of your labor, then you’re inevitably going to find yourself in a bad situation. If your apartment is empty, borrow some couches and chairs or try to inherit from an outgoing senior.
Keep the plastic at bay for a few more years, and $200 coats and $500 handbags will be a killer accessory rather than a ridiculous burden.
Tom Rowan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.