Is Student Debt a Choice?
University President’s remarks draw criticism
ANCHORAGE - At a recent University of Alaska Board of Regents meeting, University President Pat Gamble told the regents much of the debt that students accumulate is by choosing a certain type of lifestyle – having a car, an apartment and going on spring break.
For students without substantial family support, debt is something they accept as part of getting a degree. Alaska students graduate with about $25,600 – slightly more than the national average.
Most students aren't funding their education from one source.
Sophomore Emily Hodson isn't in debt yet, thanks to years of Permanent Fund dividends, but she knows she might have to borrow in the future.
But after five years in college, Lars Singleton has racked up the debt. He said he owes about $20,000. And that's about average for a UAA student who's in college for the first time and graduates within six years.
Does he feel he borrowed frivolously?
“Absolutely not, it pretty much covers text books and fees and tuition,” Singleton said. “I cringe to open those envelopes every month.”
Evelyn Castillo agrees. “I have a very crappy car. I try to make ends meet everyday. I take 19 credits and I still work and I’m still struggling. So I’m fighting to fight the debt. So I don't think I'm making a choice.”
Though some students might indulge, most say they're living frugally.
They're all hoping someday to just work one good job to make a living.
According to UA’s Financial Aid Department, UAA students carry a lighter debt load than college students in other parts of the state. A UAA graduate owes $19,000, compared to $25,000 statewide.