Between them, my son and his friends are in debt to the tune of £110,000. - the cost of a terraced house in Hillsborough.
They haven’t run up credit card bills, developed addictions for either poker or cocaine. They don’t wear designer trainers or drive around in sports cars.
It’s all because the five of them went to university.
Right now, they’re too focussed on getting their results and working out what jobs to apply for, to have thought too much about the huge amount of money they are likely to owe for years. But the day will come.
Reality will hit home. They’ll do the maths (or the one with the A-level in it will), work out how much more they currently owe than they will have paid back and feel sicker than seaside donkeys.
And they are the lucky ones, the last batch to have been taught under the old tuition fees.
The kids who have just sweated through their A-level exams will have it much worse.
They must be questioning the point of it all and be wracked with doubt about their futures.
There are now so many pros and cons to weigh up, you need a degree in economics before you even decide to go to university.
Confusion is rife, but not only among students. One in three parents admit they don’t understand how the new charges will work and how and when their kids will have to pay off their debts.
The long-held dream of getting their children through the stress of GCSEs and A-levels and on to what was once considered the sure-fire route to success is crumbling in front of them and they don’t know what to believe in any more. What is best for their kids? A mortar-board complete with ball and chain in three years’ time,when at least the recession might have eased, or to fight it out for a job here and now? They haven’t a clue.
At the start of Universities Week, a YouGov survey reports widespread confusion and fear among parents.
Student debt will treble from the current £24 billion my son and his peers owe to a staggering £70 billion in four years.
A generation of young adults will flounder in a mire of debt. Owing up to £50,000 each (thanks to inflation and interest on their loans), how will they get together deposits to buy their own homes?
How will they be able to save towards their pensions?
And the Government can only blame itself because it underestimated the number of universities that would opt to charge maximum fees.
What is its answer to all this?
To pat parents on the head and say ah, well, nod nod, wink wink, we don’t think 30 per cent of the student debt mountain will ever be repaid.
The theory behind their calculations is truly sickening.
They reckon a percentage of graduates will never earn more than £21,000 a year - the salary a former student has to be on before the loan payments can start - before the 30-year time limit expires.
The average UK salary is already £23,000.
What IS the point in putting yourself through three years of hard-slog if you’re not going to earn anything like that until you’re into your 50s?