Funding the American Dream: New Podcast Series on Student Financial Aid & Debt
In March 2017, Tech Crunch published an article on return on education investment. The article posited that college is likely the second largest expense for a person after buying a home.
Filing the FAFSA author Mark Kantrowitz writes that the average student financial aid debt at graduation has tripled in the past two decades.
With the ongoing reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the topic of higher ed affordability and student financial aid is being highlighted as one area for innovation.
As the national student loan debt continues to rise, more and more Americans are asking, “How can we fix this?”
Or, more specifically, “How am I ever going to pay off my student loan debt?”
To get to the bottom of these questions and to find real solutions for college affordability, we interviewed students, college administrators, nonprofits, corporations, and more.
Want to know what’s in store? Watch this video teaser for our upcoming podcast series “Challenges and Solutions for Student Financial Aid & Debt.“
[00:00:13] CURTIS: OK. All right. So my name is Curtis.
[00:00:15] AMANDA: Hi I’m Amanda.
[00:00:16] HASSAN: Hi, my name’s Hassan.
[00:00:18] VINNY: Hi my name is Vinny.
[00:00:19] RON: Ok. My name is Ron.
[00:00:20] JORDAN: Hi my name is Jordan. And I’m a college dropout.
[00:00:23] CURTIS: Currently a faculty and assistant professor.
[00:00:28] RON: I’m currently an investment advisor.
[00:00:30] HASSAN: I’m going to architecture this August.
[00:00:32] AMANDA: Currently a junior studying psychology.
[00:00:35] VINNY: I’m starting business finance in September.
[00:00:42] JORDAN: I think probably like 25,000. Did a couple of semesters and just feeling like things were not right. Like, you know, it just wasn’t… I tried doing it like all the loans, I was signing papers that I didn’t really know about, which I’m like, have a loan debt, and like I have loans now that don’t understand. Like I was 18 years old and I signed this stuff. And like I didn’t really have family members above me to like tell me like, you should be careful before you sign those loans. If you can’t pay them back, it could be a burden on your future.
[00:01:07] AMANDA: It’s going to be somewhere around the 100ish thousand. I mean it’s really overwhelming and…very stressful going through school. And you know, trying to keep the grades up. So far I haven’t made the high enough grades to get the scholarship and get the financial aid. To get you know more help. So, it’s been really overwhelming and stressful so far.
[00:01:34] CURTIS: I do not. I do not, and I actually was myself fortunate enough to never have it, but I was one of the few, I guess, that I knew that that didn’t really have it.
[00:01:51] VINNY: My dad’s co-signing a loan and then we’re going to pay it off eventually.
[00:01:55] AMANDA: Right now I have Citizen’s loan. And the rest is just…you know out of pocket.
[00:02:02] HASSAN: No idea. Taking out loans, slowly build up a business, and slowly pay back that loans and have crippling debt as I do it.
[00:02:11] JORDAN: I Grind and I work like two or three plus jobs, like on the daily. I’ve been doing that since I was like 16, like even before I was in high school, or going off to college. I was always doing like work study or something.
[00:02:19] RON: Well we’re going to help them pay off the debt a little bit. When she gets a job that’s part of her responsibility. She understands that…to pay it off. And then one of the other things that I’ve kind of trained her on, is hopefully she may have a job offer from one or two companies, and ask them if they would help pay for any of the debt.
[00:02:40] HASSAN: Awful because they rejected my FAFSA because something was wrong. So they were just going to say, hey you’re out of luck.
[00:02:51] JESSICA: Do you know what was wrong. I don’t, because the communication with FAFSA in colleges aren’t great.
[00:02:57] RON: The questions that they’re asking are…it’s a little too personal. Very cumbersome.
[00:03:08] CURTIS: I know a lot of the students that I have in class and whatnot definitely feel that way.
[00:03:14] AMANDA: I didn’t get anything.
[00:03:14] JESSICA: Didn’t get anything.
[00:03:16] AMANDA: According to the FAFSA standard. My family just makes a little too much money. It’s like right on the line of where you have to make either to much or you know, be an in-need family.
[00:03:33] VINNY: Just just apply for as many scholarships and do good in school.
[00:03:37] HASSAN: Just complete your FAFSA, apply for as many scholarships as you can, and…yeah that said, there’s not really much you can do except plan ahead.
[00:03:45] CURTIS: And then a lot of my students now, I mean today, definitely work outside jobs during the school year. And then, of course, they’re trying to get internships during the summer, so as soon as they can.
[00:03:57] AMANDA: Choose smart what you study. So choose something that you’re really going to like. And then choose something that’s going to help you in the long run.
[00:04:06] JORDAN: Study other options, you know? Like just don’t fit in the hype that college is the answer. That’s where you need to go, immediately after high school. If you want to take a gap year or like, just even more time to figure out what you want to do.
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Hannah Nyren is the General Manager of EdTech Times. A Texan by birth but a Bostonian at heart, Hannah is an educational writer, AmeriCorps alum, and one-time StartupWeekend EDU (SWEDU) winning team member. She started her career at a Pearson-incubated edtech startup, but has since covered travel, food & culture, and even stonemasonry in addition to education.