The issue of student loan debt and where to find help financing college

Photo courtesy of POM college consulting.

Photo courtesy of POM college consulting.

Kate Rose, Staff Writer

College can be very expensive, everyone knows that, and it is only getting harder and harder to pay for. Student Loan debt has become a major problem and is only getting worse. For instance, $1.76 trillion is the current total amount of student debt in the United States, and this number continues to grow. Student debt has also influenced young Americans to spend less, which has a negative impact on the economy from lower levels of consumerism. Student loans end up impacting everyone in the country and not just those who are in debt.

Taking the extra step to prevent student debt can make life better not just for you and your family, but for the whole economy as well. Rebecca Smith, SHS Economics teacher, gives her insight on the future impacts this issue may have on the economy.

“I think it’s going to be an economic crisis if kids keep ending up in this much student loan debt,” Smith said. “Kids are going to graduate college being a hundred thousand dollars in debt if their parents can’t pay for it, they don’t find scholarships or if they don’t find ways around college.

“There is so much more to student debt than students realize and I think it’s going to be a huge economic crisis if something doesn’t change,” Smith said.

According to Smith, to keep the economy going and keep yourself out of student debt there are many different choices and paths you can take.

“There are a million scholarships out there,” Smith said. “Even if you’re someone who doesn’t get that good of grades, there are scholarships out there that also look into loan forgiveness, FAFSA, all those things to help you. The biggest thing is to go talk to your counselor.”

Scholarships are a common way to help students pay for college. SHS has local scholarships for many different students with different backgrounds. Some of these scholarships include: The SADD Club scholarship, Music In Motion scholarship, Solon Italian Club Scholarship, Solon Soccer Club, George Steyer PTA Scholarship, Solon Athletic Boosters scholarship and more. If you meet the criteria, you can apply for these and then be provided with a certain amount of financial aid. Although the deadline has passed for seniors this year, these will all be available for upcoming seniors each year.

SHS head guidance counselor Ann Trocchio says scholarships are considered based on a student’s need, family income and family size then quote, Colleges want to pay these students so that they then want to attend that college.

Trocchio also said some schools are more generous than others with their finances.

“In the state of Ohio, Miami Ohio is very generous while The Ohio State isn’t very generous.” Trocchio said. “It depends on a lot of variables, but some schools are more generous than others, and some states are less expensive.”

Over time college has gotten way more expensive, and according to Trocchio and a lot of things have changed.

“Early in my career at Solon, money was really not questioned,” Trocchio said. “We hardly had anyone apply for local scholarships. That trend changed I would say in the last 10-15 years, as it’s been more difficult for students to not look for ways to supplement their college tuition. Other variables have also had an impact such as Covid-19.”

Another important idea is to make the right choices for you and your family. Choosing the right college based on the money your family wants to spend can help greatly. POM College Consulting team member Joana Fifner said that overall, financial aid is very helpful–for a lot of students, it is the difference between attending college or not. Having said that, Fifner believes that even with the relief they provide, there are still so many students and families who are left with high costs and college debt.

Despite the possible financial burdens, young adults still want to go to college and get that degree they have dreamed of. Smith added that she is surprised with how many of her students want to go to college knowing that they are going to be over $100,000 in debt at the end of it.

“I worry that kids don’t realize what a hole they are going to start their life in,” Smith said. “And how hard it’s going to be to dig themselves out of that hole.”

The need for money only grows over time. Scholarships, financial aid, and choosing your future wisely can help students get to where they want without having to break their bank account.

“I think eventually either colleges are going to get cheaper or kids are going to have to find different paths,” Smith said. “This isn’t sustainable.”