The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Financial aid and student loans should be revamped

My name is Weintana Abraha and I am in debt for about $100,000.

You might be thinking, “What the hell has she done to be in so over her head with money problems?” Even to me, it seems unbelievable. I’m barely 20 years old. I’m not a gambling addict. I’ve never been in trouble with the law or involved in drugs. I’m not now, nor have I have ever been, in an unfortunate business deal with the mafia. My identity hasn’t been stolen. How did I find myself in this unfortunate situation?

I went to college.

Not just a random state school either, but Vassar College, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country.

Originally a Seven Sisters college, it was founded in the 1800s to be, in a sense, the Yale of girls’ liberal arts schools. Vassar’s caliber as a place of learning is still high. Unfortunately, so is the cost: $43,000 a year in tuition and anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000 in other costs such as room and board, books and other living expenses.

Anyone outside of the university life might be shocked to hear such outrageous costs, but many of my fellow students will understand the situation I am in. The severity of college student debt has been an increasing trend for many years.

The situation has only gotten worse in time. A study conducted by the College Board reveals that private lenders provided $14 billion for the 2004-2005 academic year showing an overall increase of 30 percent in the number of private student loans.

Future finances are looking bleaker for soon-to-be university students and graduates alike. According to America’s Student Loan Providers, by 2014 undergraduate enrollment is expected to increase by 16 percent at four-year institutions and 14 percent at two-year institutions. That means thousands, even millions, more young people in heavy debt by their early 20s.

This situation greatly affects the lowest economic class, but it is also increasingly affecting middle class students and families. A major problem in government and university financial aid is its discrimination against middle class students and their families.

Pre-existing obligations like mortgages, other children’s college expenses, 401Ks and previous loans are a reality for many people. Unfortunately, those elements are not taken into consideration when evaluating financial aid packages. And so, the cycle of debt for the middle class continues.

Parents who were university students finish paying off loans a decade or more after they finish college, only to find themselves shouldering their offspring’s financial strain. The cycle continues.

So what is the solution? Fixed interest rates, lower tuition, greater eligibility for federally subsidized loans? I can’t say for certain.

But an answer to this dilemma can only be found by changing the financial aid and loan system.

I know that there are possibilities to help recent and future college graduates prevent or escape a life of incredible debt. And until something is done to help reduce student debt, millions of young people must face an unsecured tomorrow when they receive their B.A./B.S. degree and go off into the real world.

Then again, there’s always graduate school.

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