68.8 percent of recent high school graduates entered college in 2010. The students face higher and higher levels of debt.
The number of students like Nicholas Patton, left, with over $40,000 in debt via loans grew tenfold between 1998 and 2008. The average debt in loans for a college student in the United States is $21,000. In Colorado, the average student debt is $20,866.
The average credit card debt for students grew 46.3 % to $3,173 between 1998 and 2008, up from $2,169. Students are using the expenses for food, textbooks, and even housing. Credit card debt does not carry the same repayment options as federal student aid and special bank loans. Instead students must pay back their debt almost immediately or face growing interest.
Students make tradeoffs as they acquire debt. DU students claimed that they eat more fast food. While appearing cheaper, the average fast food meal contains more calories than a homemade meal and may actually be more expensive.
Canadian researchers found that the lower the ratio of grocery stores to fast food establishments, the higher the obesity rate was in a multi-city study conducted in the United States and Canada. As students form their eating habits during the first year of school, the allure of fast food can have a lasting impact.
Nicholas, who has $55,000, in debt has a more serious choice to make. “This will last for a week. I’ll try to eat one a day and maybe a small meal.” –Nicholas Patton
Nicholas has other problems he cannot solve either. His laptop screen fell off the keyboard and will not turn on. He cannot afford repairs despite having documents for school on the computer.
45 percent of college students work an average of 21 hours per week in positions outside and at school. Richard Sanders and Sabina Hernandez are Residence Hall Assistants at the University of Denver’s Nagel Hall.
In order to afford school, housing, and other expenses, Amanda Neese works as a bartender at Styx and as a waiter elsewhere.
Students can also obtain financial aid packages that cover living expenses as well as school. At the University of Denver, students can get up to $5,500 per year. Additional Expenses may be covered through special bank loans that push payment off for a certain period of time such as a parent plus loan.
Family’s often provide aid in addition to help with tuition, giving students a combined total of $750 per month for all expenses beyond school.“My family sends these packages every once in a while. I like their help but I wish we would talk more.” –Nicholas Patton
“In the end, it is important to try to maintain a sense of normalcy. It helps.”—Nicholas Patton