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How much is too much?
University ranks sixth on U.S. News list of schools with most student loan debt
The thought of student loan debt can be overwhelming to some college students, especially as getting a degree becomes less of an option for people across America.
On a list of colleges that leave graduates with the most student loan debt, Quinnipiac was ranked No. 6, according to U.S. News.
Junior Colton Hoffman said he is not surprised of Quinnipiac’s ranking.
“I love it here but the tuition is so high,” he said. “[It’s] even worse [that] the financial help provided by the school is very limited.”
Students graduating from Quinnipiac on average pay back $44,552 in student loans, according to the data from U.S. News.
But some students such as sophomore Donovan Sepulveda were shocked to hear Quinnipiac was No. 6 on the list.
“It’s scary because it is something we are going to have to start focusing on as soon as we get out of college,” he said. “It’s not a problem that is far far away it comes very quickly and I am in that scenario. I am going to need to get a job to pay for it right away.”
Director of Financial Aid Dominic Yoia believes this statistic is unfortunate.
“We aren’t proud of that number and we are trying to lower that number,” he said. “But it’s important to know that a lot of these types of surveys are voluntary. We have always provided that information and we try to be as transparent as possible, which not all schools do.”
The list goes on to explain that 71 percent of Quinnipiac students borrow money in order to continue their education. Yoia said this is because Quinnipiac is a private university that costs more than state universities or community colleges.
Sepulveda believes college debt is a huge problem for students.
“I have seen a lot of people who have had to leave school because of financial reasons,” he said. “It’s a clear problem that a lot of people who go to college have to deal with.”
Yoia said this year, Quinnipiac has modified its financial aid formula to increase the amount of scholarships given to students from the incoming freshman class upon admittance.
“Right now, we are probably awarding more students more [financial] aid than we ever have in our history for this incoming freshman class,” he said. “It is an unfortunate statistic that college is getting expensive and we try to help students where we can and when we can.”
Yoia advises students to manage their debt by signing up for the SALT program, a free educational website with resources for students to manage their student loan debt. Few students currently use SALT and Yoia said he hopes the site becomes more popular.
“We try to educate students as much as we can through the process but for some they abruptly find out at the end when it is too late when there is nothing we can do about it,” he said.
Yoia said he begins to become concerned for students when they start to borrow private loans instead of just borrowing federal loans.
“If the student borrows the amount of federal loans being offered, they will end up with around $31,000 [in debt] after a four year period,” he said. “For most students this is very manageable because it turns out to be a $300 month payment over a 10 year period.”
Hoffman said he is nervous about his student loan debt.
“I feel nervous of the years following my graduation,” he said. “If you don’t get a job out of college it will be really hard to pay the debts off.”
Yoia said the decreasing federal and state resources have not made it easy for the financial aid office to help students. Governor Dannel Malloy is trying to remove programs for students who are attending private colleges in Connecticut. This means students will receive less financial aid if they go to a private university.
Yoia believes this is going to be devastating to Quinnipiac students.
“The governor for whatever reason doesn’t like students going to private colleges,” he said. “When we get cuts like that from our state and our federal government, the burden that the government puts on schools drives up the costs over time.”
Yoia said this makes it hard for universities to keep their tuition fees lower and hopes Malloy will not remove this program.
Many students always find themselves asking the question, “How much debt is too much debt?” Yoia believes this depends on a student’s major.
“If you are graduating from a program that comes with a larger paycheck, such as PT or OT or if you’re going to med school or law school, the salaries are incrementally higher than somebody graduating in another major,” he said. “When we see students [in these science or law majors] borrowing more money to go to school, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it is an investment in their future and eventually they will be able to pay for it.”
Yoia said the national average of college debt per student is around $30,000 to $40,000. He said anything that is above these amounts is concerning. While the financial aid office can offer advice to students, they cannot tell students to not borrow loans.
Sepulveda believes having college debt is inevitable for students attending universities.
“There are so many people who have the same problem and there is no easy way to get out of it,” he said. “Unless you don’t go with the traditional college education, there is no way around debt.”
Yoia has advice he gives to all college students who want to leave college without an excessive amount of debt.
“Live like a college student now while you’re in college, so you don’t have to live like one for the rest of your life,” he said. “There’s a lot of choices that students have to make when they go to college and when you minimize your expenses over a four year period you will be amazed at how much you can save.”