Scrolling Headlines:

UMass hockey drops 4-1 decision against No. 3 Quinnipiac Friday night -

November 28, 2015

UMass women’s basketball routed by Colorado 90-63 Friday night -

November 28, 2015

UMass football closes book on 2015 season with win over Buffalo -

November 27, 2015

UMass hockey to face off against No. 3 Quinnipiac this weekend -

November 27, 2015

UMass men’s basketball drops first game of season to Creighton in MGM Grand Main Event finals -

November 26, 2015

UMass football prepares for final regular season game against Buffalo Friday -

November 25, 2015

UMass men’s basketball continues hot shooting in rout of Clemson Monday night -

November 24, 2015

SGA votes down letter opposing Baker’s statements on refugees -

November 24, 2015

IPO reaches out to local families to host international students for Thanksgiving -

November 24, 2015

Amherst Police Log: Nov. 20-22 -

November 24, 2015

Local Pioneer Valley food banks aim to fight hunger -

November 24, 2015

UMass club sports present petition alleging lack of resources, communication from athletic department -

November 24, 2015

UMass women’s basketball looks to get back on track in Omni Hotels Classic -

November 24, 2015

An inside look at the UMass club baseball team -

November 24, 2015

UMass men’s swimming proves victorious in Terrier Invitational, Minutewomen finish fourth -

November 24, 2015

The benefits of meditation -

November 24, 2015

Letter to the editor: Students for Justice in Palestine respond to a previous op-ed -

November 24, 2015

In wake of Paris attacks, US should not ditch compassion -

November 24, 2015

Student makes UMass history as first to perform mainstage production in wheelchair -

November 24, 2015

Graduate Employee Organization and UMass administrators meet to talk about late pay issues -

November 23, 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

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