ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — The pause on federal student loan repayments is set to expire on May 1. With increasing inflation and gas prices hitting all-time highs, some are concerned as this deadline approaches. However, experts say there is some good news.

Matthew Burr, a human resources consultant, says the government cannot continue to “kick the can” down the road.

“I don’t see why we need a pause when we’ve got 12 million job openings,” said Burr. “There are opportunities out there for people to make money and pay their bills. I understand inflation and gas and everything is eating into people’s bottom line. But at the same time, you’ve got to come to a decision on what this looks like long term.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate sat at 3.8% for February 2022. This is the lowest number since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the U.S. inflation rate rose 7.9% in 2021, a 40-year high.

Mark Abdalla, an assistant professor of finance at Elmira College, gave some more optimism as students and former students prepare to open their pocketbooks again.

“One thing I will mention is that wages have come up quite a bit too in the past year,” said Abdalla. “We are seeing a stronger economy. As a borrower, as someone with a lot of student debt, [high inflation] is a good thing. The real value of your debt has declined due to a higher inflation rate.”

Another concern students face as they decide on a college: rising tuition costs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, from 2010 to 2020, the average cost of a public 4-year institution has risen about 13%. Burr said there is a reason why those costs often rise.

“[Tuition costs] usually do [rise] because they raise the amount that you can borrow each year,” said Burr. “So, the cost of that degree goes up just a little bit each year based on how much you’re able to borrow.”

On March 15, Cornell University announced their tuition rates will rise between “3.6% and 3.9%”. However, their grant-based financial aid will also increase by 8.4%. The university claims this $322 million investment will ensure that Cornell remains accessible to students from every background.

The university also wrote approximately half of the undergraduate student body receives Cornell grant-based aid, which also covers room, board and incidental expenses. The median Cornell grant in 2021 was $47,563.

With the student loan pause set to expire soon, Abdalla recommends looking at college like a long-term investment.

“You can think of it in terms of higher future cash flows down the road,” said Abdalla. “I saw a study that pointed out if you have a college education, you’re likely to accumulate $1.2 million more over your lifespan than if you didn’t. So, you could kind of think of it as an investment in yourself.”

According to the Social Security Administration, men with bachelor’s degrees earn approximately $900,000 more in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates. Women with bachelor’s degrees earn $630,000 more.