Student loan debt among Americans increased by roughly 107% over the last decade, according to data recently published by the Federal Reserve.
The average University of Connecticut student graduates with $28,028 of debt, lower than both the national average ($29,200) as well as the Connecticut average ($38,650) according to UConn Today.
Over the next five years, UConn tuition is scheduled to increase by 23.3%, a slightly slower pace than the previous four years in which tuition increased by 31%, according to the CT Mirror. President Thomas Katsouleas hopes to offset these increases through the implementation of the Connecticut Commitment where students from families that earn less than $50,000 a year will attend UConn tuition-free.
In the fourth quarter of 2009, Americans held roughly $772 billion in outstanding student loan debt. By the fourth quarter of 2019, that figure had risen to $1.6 trillion.
This data comes during a time in which several Democratic presidential hopefuls have outlined competing strategies for making higher education more affordable.
Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have each debuted student loan debt forgiveness proposals as well as plans for universal higher education. Alternatively, Sen. Klobuchar and Mayor Buttigieg have each vowed to increase the amount of money available for Pell Grants, with Buttigieg additionally proposing loan debt forgiveness for graduates of institutions that failed to meet the Gainful Employment Rule standards.
Amid rising tuition costs, some UConn students have their own thoughts about what could be done to reduce the cost of attending the university.
“I think it could definitely be cheaper to go here,” said fourth-semester computer science major Christina Gorbenko. “Even the $500 we pay for the gym each year is excessive.”
Some students, like eighth-semester economics major Brandon Forbes, are less sure of what can be done.
“I don’t think it’s healthy that student loan debt is increasing so dramatically,” Forbes said. “But do you look to the government to fix that? Loan forgiveness plans? I wish there was a clear-cut answer but that’s why it’s such a problem.”
Other students spoke out about fee increases and scholarship opportunities.
“As a university, you have to have a standard for your education and find something in between where you can offer your courses without increasing the fees,” said sixth-semester mechanical engineering major Mohammed Jamil. “Maybe they can give more scholarships so we don’t have to take so many expensive loans.”
When asked for her prediction, however, Gorbenko was less optimistic.
“I don’t think this is going to change because UConn is a business and if people are willing to pay more, they’re going to charge more,” Gorbenko said.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of Alexander Mils from Pexels.com.
Nick Smith is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.