debt

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Alexis Meier will graduate with about $120,000 of student debt in her mother’s name. Coming to UF was the cheaper option for the New Jersey native, who would have spent about $60,000 a year had she chosen to go to a school in her home state. 

The 19-year-old UF sociology sophomore’s loans, which only cover her tuition and fees, help contribute to the U.S. national student debt — which reached $1.64 trillion in 2019, according to a study done by LearnBonds.com, a financial publication.

The study states that in the last decade, U.S. student loan debt has more than doubled by more than 119 percent going from $771.7 billion to $1.64 trillion. 

So how does UF compare to these numbers?

In data provided by UF spokesperson Steve Orlando, the average amount of debt upon graduation for an undergraduate student who took out loans during 2007-2008 was $15,318. In the most recent data available,  2017-2018 aid year, the average debt for students who borrowed loans was $21,713. 

On average, about 60.8 percent of UF students graduated with no student loan debt between 2013 and 2018. 

According to the study, the average cost of tuition and fees at a public in-state university in the 2019-2020 school year was $10,116, whereas UF was below that average at $6,380. For students attending a public university out-of-state, the cost was on average $22,577. However, at UF, the cost is about $28,658.

Being an out-of-state student equates to Meier paying almost $1,000 per credit hour whereas a student with Florida residency would pay $212.71, according to the finance and accounting department at UF. 

Students at UF have different options for aid in the form of loans — federal or private. In 2019, UF accumulated $233,079,690 in federal loans, which are loans from the government. Private loans, such as ones from companies like Sallie Mae or Citizens One, reached $11,875,556 among all students.

Student debt continues to be a topic of interest across the U.S., specifically in the race for the 2020 democratic nomination. Candidates like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden each have plans to either eliminate, reduce or modify student debt.

UF offers four different financial aid options: scholarships, grants, loans and part-time employment, according to the Student Financial Aid Affairs website.

Florida residents who meet the requirements can receive one of two Bright Futures, the Florida Medallion Scholarship or the Florida Academic Scholarship. The Medallion scholarship offers 75 percent of their tuition covered, while the academic scholarship covers 100 percent of tuition, according to the Student Financial Affairs website.

Meier believes UF should ease the financial burden of college to prevent the need to take out student loans. 

“I personally think it should just be lower and more cost-efficient,” she said. “I pay $1,000 per a credit hour while in-state students pay $1,000 for their whole tuition.”

Contact Alyssa Feliciano at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @alyssashantelle.