Scrolling Headlines:

Justin King sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison -

Monday, June 29, 2015

Two future UMass hockey players selected in 2015 NHL Draft -

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Supreme Court ruling clears way for same-sex marriage nationwide -

Friday, June 26, 2015

Former UMass center Cady Lalanne taken 55th overall by Spurs in 2015 NBA Draft -

Friday, June 26, 2015

Second of four men found guilty on three counts of aggravated rape in 2012 UMass gang rape case -

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Boston bomber speaks out for first time: ‘I am sorry for the lives I have taken’ -

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

King claims sex with woman was consensual during alleged 2012 gang rape -

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wrongful death suit filed in death of UMass student -

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ryan Bamford uses online Q&A session to discuss UMass football conference search, renovation plans, cost of attendance -

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Opening statements delivered, first witnesses called in second trial for alleged 2012 gang rape at UMass -

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

UMass Board of Trustees approves rise in tuition, student fees -

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Former Minutewoman Quianna Diaz-Patterson named to Puerto Rican national softball team -

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

UMass rowing’s Jim Dietz inducted into CRCA Hall of Fame -

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Jury selection begins Monday in second gang rape trial -

Monday, June 15, 2015

Students turn attention to state legislators as decision on UMass budget looms -

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Alumna and next director of Brooklyn Museum Anne Pasternak ‘created her own path’ -

Thursday, June 11, 2015

UMass graduate crowned head of 600-year-old Indian kingdom -

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Committee recommends UMass increase tuition, student fees for in-state undergraduates -

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Darrice Griffin named UMass’ senior associate athletic director for internal operations/senior woman administrator -

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Report: UMass football will host Mississippi State in 2016 -

Monday, June 8, 2015

Students deal with debt

Like many college students, Jennifer Collotta, a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts, is worried about her student loan debt upon graduation. Many UMass students, like her, are unsure of how they are going to pay it all back.

“I’m just going to have to take it how it comes,” she said, “I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it.”

According to Peterson’s Undergraduate Financial Aid Database, 2008 UMass graduates had an average debt after graduating of $21,614, $1,572 less than the national average.

Over the past four years, students have taken out more loans to pay for their higher education than ever before, according to Peterson’s report. Upon graduation, students are attempting to pay off high student debt and trying to find work in a difficult economy.

Former UMass student Brianna Simao is worried about just that. She is currently a junior at Bristol Community College and works 38 hours a week at McDonald’s. As an education major, she’s worried about how she’ll maintain a job in her field.

“It’s going to be hard to keep a teaching job,” she said, “There’s not much security.”

Many students at UMass are working jobs on-campus just so they can finance their education. Nationally, 78 percent of undergraduate students worked while they were enrolled full-time in college during the 2003-2004 school year, according to American Council on Education.

“I have a job, but I’m putting school before work,” Collota said, “There’s too much on my plate. But I’m going to owe about $75,000 by the time I graduate.”

One reason for the increase in student debt is a drastic increase in tuition and fees, according to Gerald Friedman, an associate professor of economics at UMass.

“College tuition has risen much faster than the amount [workers are] actually paid,” said Friedman, “because colleges have been ‘taxing’ affluent students to fund increasing financial aid. They have also been providing more amenities to attract high tuition students, driving up the costs with larger and nicer dorms, better meal plans, more athletic facilities, etc.”

Friedman said that the current state of the U.S. economy will make it more difficult for students to pay off loans.

“The downturn has ended, but we are not in any sort of meaningful recovery. We probably won’t recover for a long, long time,” he said.

According to Friedman, this translates to students essentially putting their lives on hold as they pay off loans.. He explained that they’re going to find it takes longer and will be harder to find a stable job, buy a house, or start a family.  

At 69.1 percent, the universities and colleges of Massachusetts have the highest graduation rate in the nation. The national average is 55.9 percent, according to the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS). Despite this, getting a college degree alone isn’t enough. This generation has many obstacles with which to contend that their parents didn’t have to deal with.

“I have no idea how to deal with it,” Simao said, “interest is going to kill me.”

Despite the higher debt load for college students, Friedman said the lucrative job prospects are worth it.

“The outlook is dismal for everyone,” said Friedman, “but college graduates will be at the head of any hiring queue.”

Colin Spence can be reached at cspence@student.umass.edu.

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