Student Debt: The Harsh Reality for CCSU Students

by Cindy Pena

Many students go into college hoping that getting a degree is going to help them succeed in the real world. However, when they graduate and face the reality of the real world, they end up carrying the baggage of student debt.

This baggage limits students after graduation, as they are desperately searching for a well-paying job. The truth is, it can take several months to land a job after college.

Yet, students have to start paying back their loans shortly after graduation. At Central Connecticut State University, the harsh reality of student debt does not go unrecognized.

The 2016 study done by CCSU’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment suggests that the number of graduates who owe money for student loans is increasing.

In the academic years from 2010-11 to 2015-16, the amount of graduates who have student loans increased from 66 percent to 71 percent, and the average amount owed increased from $22,727 to $25,934. Only 29 percent of the 1,902 graduates left CCSU with no debt.

According to a letter released last spring from Connecticut State Colleges and Universities’ President Mark Ojakian, state funding for the CSCU system has decreased by 12.4 percent.

To meet these budgetary challenges, the cost to attend CCSU goes up. As the cost of tuition rises, so does the issue of student debt.

Is student debt going to get better? Although there is no clear answer, a look into what Education Secretary Betsy DeVos plans to do with student loans can better answer that question.

In 2015, Obama banned collection fees for those who began paying off their debts immediately after defaulting. In March, DeVos overturned that ban because she stated the Obama administration did not get public input for this rule.

Devos’ proposed budget, which was released in May, leaves student loan forgiveness programs, like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, in danger. She states that the proposed budget cuts are to ensure funding for programs that are proven to work for students.

DeVos originally planned to consolidate federal student loan servicers. After receiving backlash, her plan fell through. Her plan now consists of using multiple student loan services and one website for student debt repayments.

Ultimately, student debt is a harsh reality for many graduates. At CCSU, it is an issue that resonates with many students.

With the increasing cost of an education and DeVos’ plan to revamp the system, student debt will continue to be baggage that graduates have to carry.