Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Concern for post-grad debt rises with tuition

When Rachael Jones graduates, she will leave with $28,000 in debt because of student loans.

“My only plan is to find a job that can put a dent in my debt,” Jones, a senior public relations major, said. “I don’t have any set plans, but the only thing I can do is to find a job.”

Though Jones will leave with a large debt to pay off, she said college will be worth it.

“I feel that if it is the only way I am able to get a higher education, then it was worth every penny.

”According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the nationwide average student loan is $23,000 per borrower. Roughly one-fourth of borrowers have outstanding loan debts of more than $28,000, and 10 percent owe more than $54,000.

However, Jones may see some relief. On Tuesday, both parties in the United States Senate announced that they had reached an agreement to extend a student loan rate cut. The House of Representatives GOP is expecting to discuss the rate cut this morning.

Ashlee Kirt, a sophomore studying management information systems, said she still expects to leave college with $50,000 owed on student loans. Kirt said most of her loans are from the government, with a loan from a third party lend-er that the subsidized and unsubsidized loans did not cover.

“I’m trying my best to pay the interest while I am in school, but it’s getting harder since I can’t work as much during the school year as I can in the summer,” Kirt said. “It’s not looking like I’ll be able to keep the interest completely under control until I graduate.”

For the first time in history student debt has climbed over $1 trillion, passing the total credit carddebt, which the Federal ReserveBank of New York lists as being $693 billion in the third-quarter of 2011.

Students and activists across the nation have started to take notice.

“It’s really important to have solidarity in affordable education,” Janna Powell, organizer for “All in the Red,” said.

“All in the Red” is a New York-based activist group that seeks to raise awareness about student debt and organize events, marches and action around the issue.

“All in the Red” declared this past Friday, June 22, “Night of the Living Debt.” Powell said the event was successful, bringing out around 200 people in New York City to participate in a march, performances, and the kick off for “a summer of nationwide actions.”

“We wanted to have a very clear, on-point message that anybody could connect to,” Powell said. “If we can’t be educating ourselves and our youth, we will not have a functioning society.”

According to a New York Times report, roughly two-thirds of graduates with a bachelor’s degree borrow in order to attend college.

“I feel stressed about my student loan debt situation,” Katrinna Carter, a junior studying philosophy and public relations, said.

Carter said the debt she will likely leave the University of Alabama with is more than she would like it to be. She added that her debt will just grow with the recent tuition increase.

The Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and Birmingham campuses of the UA System all see a rise in tuition. For in-state students in Tuscaloosa, a rise in the rate by seven percent means the $4,300 tuition will increase to $4,600. Out-of-state students will see a five percent increase, raising tuition from $10,950 to $11,475. As it is for many other public schools in the United States, the increases in tuition can be attributed to cuts in state funding.

Overall, Carter said she feels neutral about the tuition increase.

“Being an out-of-state student, my parents already pay more than enough to send me here to UA,” Carter said. “I feel that it should have been considered much more strongly and longer and to take in consideration people who rely on financial aid to pay for school.” For other students, the tuition increase is alarming.

“It definitely puts me on edge when I hear about the tuition increase,” said Lauren Killen, a junior majoring in early childhood education. “It seems to go up just about every year. When it comes to my financial aid I always hope that I will have enough to cover most of the new tuition costs and fees.”

Killen said she definitely worries about having financial issues due to the debt when she graduates and doesn’t have a way to begin paying it off now but said her education is important now.

“It is something I am willing to do because it was important to me to be able to go to college and earn a degree for myself,” Killen said. “Hopefully I will get a great job and be able to get the loans paid off. I understood the consequences when I applied for federal aid as a freshman.”

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, as of the third quarter of 2011, 14.4 percent of the 37 million borrowers have at least one student loan debt that is past due. Out of the total outstanding student loan balance 10 percent or about $85 billion is due to overdue loans.

Carter feels this puts immense stress on her future, echoing the sentiment of young graduates across the nation.

“Just having to think about paying off thousands of dollars for receiving an education is unbearable,” Carter said. “Once I graduate, I have to immediately start paying off this huge debt I owe.”

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