May is over now, and I hope that you were inspired, as I am sure the recent college graduates were, by all of those wonderful, positive commencement speeches that you have no doubt seen or heard clips of. Having had the privilege of delivering a high school commencement address, I know that those are the instructions – be positive and inspirational. You can change the world, make a difference, and be whatever you want to be, if you work hard. My personal favorite was Former President Bush at SMU when he said, “and to all of you C students, you too can be the president of the United States.”
That being said, the advice of many journalists and television hosts and guests was perhaps a little more realistic, including their financial advice. I felt good about what I read and heard, because for the most part it was what we have discussed in this column in the past. Some of you may remember the 1967 film “The Graduate” with Dustin Hoffman. He receives a one word piece of advice from a successful business man — “plastics.” Today the one word that I heard and read from commentators over and over this graduation season was –“SAVE.” Great advice in this challenging world that they will live and compete in, with less opportunities, more uncertainty, and, undoubtedly, higher taxes and health care costs for those who are working and “successful” on some level, which is who, after all, they aspire to be.
The other advice that caught my attention was that of a commentator who said, give up an hour of your social media time and read and learn something that will improve your knowledge and make you more valuable in the working world, which is what I suggested in the recent series for 20 and 30 year olds. I specifically suggested they use that time to learn about personal finances.
On a somewhat related subject, I was listening to an financial advisor radio show when the host said that only 36 percent of college students earn a bachelor’s degree in four years. That got my attention, because I have been using 56 percent in my CARE presentations and writings. When I went searching, I found a report by Complete College America, which, in fact, asserts that for public colleges nationwide, the average four-year graduation rate is 36 percent. It further reported that only 50 of the more than 580 public four-year public institutions in the U.S. have an on-time graduation rate at or above 50 percent for their full time students. Although perhaps just the report’s conclusion, the aforementioned article does state that, “ In American higher education, it has become the standard to measure graduation rates at four-year colleges on a six-year time frame.”
On another somewhat related subject, recent reports by the Federal Reserve of New York, the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics contain some good news for recent college graduates. The news: The underemployment rate, (working at jobs that don’t require a college degree), has dropped from 46 percent in June 2014 to 44.6 percent in March of this year. Now I don’t know about you, but that still seemed high to me, so I went digging. It seems that in the early 2000s the percentage rate was in the high 30s, so we have a way to go. But it is still good news for recent graduates.
You know how I love those commercials. Here is one that you may have seen that is somewhat related to our topic this week. In a local bank commercial the message is – maybe your child will earn a finance degree, and then they will be able to figure out how to deal with and repay their student loans. Otherwise, maybe we can help.
Next time: Non-bank lenders are increasing, as well as the high costs of funerals.