Big Dig Draft 2: Student Debt

Alexa DePalma

Every fall, high school seniors spend most of their time figuring out what their next step will be. What university do I want to attend? Which school has the best programs for me? How much is tuition and will I receive financial aid?
New York University has one of the most well-known and competitive educations in the world. Stern students will be flooding Wall Street, Tischies headed to star on Broadway, and Gallatins majoring in whatever tickles their fancy. But one thing NYU is not known for is being affordable. With each year costing an average of $50,000, most students will end up paying about $200,000 for their education. And if they take out loans, there is always interest to be added.
But this problem, does not only affect the private universities. According to Krotala Documentaries, student debt has become a nationwide problem having recently been able to beat credit card debt as the largest amount of consumer debt. The country is now looking at $829 billion in student loans.

According to Default: The Student Loan Documentary, in 2005, private student loans lost all consumer protections. Earlier, in 1998, Congress eliminated the ability to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. These same rules apply to debts from criminal acts such as being sued and fraud. It has now become nearly impossible to discharge government and private student loans. Robert Applebaum, blogger of Forgive Student Loan Debt to Stimulate the Economy, states “For whatever reason, Congress has decided to treat student loan debt completely differently than every other type of debt. So you can discharge your gambling debts in bankruptcy but you can’t discharge your student loan debt in bankruptcy.”
Kyle McCarthy, one of the creators of the documentary, was personally affected by this issue. He suffered a bad injury a few months before his graduate school loan payments were set to kick in. He was unable to keep up with the payments and now has destroyed credit.
(Not sure how to cite email conversations)

Andrew Jenks in accompaniment with NYU Local held a demonstration in Washington Square Park titled Casualties of Debt. The event was “designed to raise awareness for the debt crisis at NYU, where students owe a collective $659 million—an average of $35,000 each upon graduation, which is around $11,000 higher than the national average.” (Wiener-Bronner Huffington Post) The demonstration had students take white t-shirts and write in red marker, the amount of debt they will have gathered by the end of their time at NYU. Jenks was quoted as saying “Obama said that higher education is the pathway to success. If a good education is a prerequisite to success, then a prerequisite for success is a $24,000 loan. Many are hoping the reputation of a degree from NYU will land them a career that will be able to support such loans.

It’s difficult for an upcoming 18 year old freshman to understand the amount of money they are actually taking out when it comes to loans, and financial matters. But, on the other hand if a student has worked hard all throughout high school and earned their seat at New York University, why should they be denied that right because their families do not happen to earn top dollar? And why should they have to take out loans that are inevitably just screwing them over, and causing more difficulty in the long run. Is the solution to offer more financial aid or should education decrease its costs?

(need to contact NYU Financial Aid/Bursar’s Office)
In contact with Kyle McCarthy

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