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Thursday, June 01, 2023

Jessica Schulte has Bright Futures, grant money and two jobs, but she still has to take out about $6,000 in loans each semester.

Schulte, a 22-year-old UF environmental science senior, said she has about $25,000 in loan debt.

“I’m honestly scared to look at the real amount,” she said.

Student debt has tripled in the past eight years, according to a new report from the New York Federal Reserve. The increase includes factors such as more people attending college, students taking longer to graduate and students attending graduate school.

However, Schulte said, she uses more loan money because financial aid has declined, and tuition has risen.

Within the past year the estimated cost to attend UF has increased $760 for undergraduates, according to Student Financial Affairs.

“I remember my freshman year I would get close to $1,200 back in grant money after my tuition and fees were paid,” Schulte said. “Now, I get close to $700 back.”

Total student debt in the United States was almost $1 trillion at the end of 2012, according to the reserve.

But for students like Schulte, there are advantages to having $25,000 in student debt.

According to the reserve, college graduates have a lower unemployment rate, survive better during recessions and enjoy salaries almost double those of high school graduates.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” said UF economics professor Colin Knapp.

However, student debt isn’t as big a problem at UF as it is at other universities, he said.

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About two-thirds of UF students graduate with no student loan debt, according to the UF website.

Ashley Coffman, a 20-year-old UF event management sophomore, takes out loans because her mom can’t afford her tuition.

“It sucks, but at the same time, I know that having a college education is most important,” she said.

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