A lot of students are piling up a lot of student loan debt, and the proportion that's having trouble making payments is increasing.
For our students, and others looking for jobs and careers in media-related fields, there's another reason to monitor your student loan borrowing and try to keep it to realistic levels.
For the most part, salaries in media fields - particularly news - aren't that great. Sure, the big names in the top markets can pull down arguably outrageous salaries, but to borrow a "hot" phrase, that's the 1%. In broadcasting (full post on report here), the median salary for early career positions outside the top 50 markets are in the $25,000-$35,000 range, and median starting salaries for people with no previous fulltime experience run in the $22,000-$25,000 range. (Median means that half the people with that job have higher salaries, half have lower). And salaries are not keeping up with inflation - with inflation at 2.9% last year, median salaries in TV only rose 2%, and median salaries in radio news increased only 1.2%.
The poor showing for median salaries isn't limited to news media or communication jobs more generally. While the cost of college and student loan debt has skyrocketed over the last decade, median income for those with a college degree has been stable or falling. As the figure below shows, costs at public colleges have risen 72% since 2000, while full-time earnings for those college grads has dropped 14.7%.
So, here's my precautionary bit of advice for "media" students - borrow realistically, particularly if you're planning on working in media. Starting pay isn't great, particularly if you've got student loan debt and payments to make, and you don't want to have debt issues sidetrack or delay your career.
Source - Federal Student Lending Swells, Wall Street Journal
(updated to include last figure and paragraph on cost vs. earnings)