The Harsh Reality of Student Loans and Post-Graduation Debt

WRITTEN BY: ZACHARY JAWORSKI

The controversial topic of student debt has been mostly swept under the rug. Hopeful young graduates, attempting to hop into the desperate job market to pay back tens of thousands of dollars, do not realize that their debt from college could last their entire life. It is time for the students of Temple University to realize the long-term effects that years of accumulated student debt can have on graduates. With overall student debt in the U.S. reaching over $1 trillion, change needs to be made among the loan system to combat this horrifyingly massive figure.

Students are faced with the difficulty of taking out student loans, knowing that he or she may spend years paying them off. (Photo credit: ABC News)
Some students are faced with the difficulty of taking out an enormous amount of student loans, knowing deep down that he or she may spend years struggling to pay them off. (Photo credit: ABC News)

With the competition for grants and scholarships becoming increasingly difficult for juniors and seniors still in high school, most young adults have no choice but to turn to student loans for assistance with tuition, books, and even something as simple as a meal plan. Joseph Williams and myself went around Temple University’s campus to see how much student debt is affecting current Temple students, and those who are just about to graduate.

Nicole Castellano, a sophomore advertising major here at Temple University, has already had to deal with taking out student loans despite maintaining three jobs while going to school full time.

“I got a lot of financial aid…but obviously it is not enough,” Castellano said. “So, I had to get loans from Temple.” When we asked Castellano about the pressure that student debt puts on her, she said “it would be easier to ask me when I don’t feel anxious about money…I’m always thinking about how I’m going to college to get a job to just pay back my loans…it’s a messed up cycle.” Even for underclassmen working multiple jobs, it is impossible to tackle such high tuition rates. Many students, especially after graduation, will simply not enter a job market that is suitable for paying back massive amounts of debt. Over time, debt accumulates, but so does the interest on those debts and, as a result, debt begins to pile up year after year.

Students from Temple University carry some of the highest student debt among all the state universities in America. Figures from 2010 show that students have accumulated up to $31,123 in debt, and the number is growing every single year.

In an interview with George Fiocca, a graduating senior of the Fox School of Business, he stated, “I did accumulate close to $40,000 to $50,000 in debt by the time I was a senior.” When we started asking Fiocca about his knowledge on student loans upon his start at Temple University, he said, “I was completely clueless on how much I would accumulate. I probably didn’t realize until my junior year…there definitely needs to be more awareness on this type of stuff when you first start out.”

As we continued to ask more students about how much Temple’s financial aid office informed them on the topic of student loans, we kept getting the same answer: not at all.

Zamara Amankwah, a senior graduating this spring, had a lot to say about Temple’s Student Financial Services Office. “Freshman year they helped me out, but as soon as I hit sophomore year, it started going down, then junior year it was completely wiped out, and I even had to fight to get work study,” Amankwah said. “I tried to explain to them that I’m a graduating senior, I need help. But they don’t care.”

If the trend of student-loan-ignorance continues among underclassmen at Temple University, the student loan debt will worsen every year. Not only does the financial aid office need to start informing young adults about the long-term consequences of debt, but so does Temple University as a whole. Fly in 4 is a program at Temple University that is assisting students in graduating within four years, in an attempt to combat hefty student loans. Although this program sounds well-developed on the surface, most students who graduate in four years will still come out of college with tens of thousands of dollars in debt and no adequate job to help pay it back.

Figuring out how to pay for college is a hard task that every student is forced to face at some point. However, no student should have to face this task alone. With debt worsening, encouragement from the financial aid office to discuss the most efficient options for paying for school is needed. With the overall student debt in the U.S. peaking around $1.2 trillion, current and future college students need to learn new ways to combat such gruesome figures before it is too late.

 

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