July 24, 2013

Debt load affecting Maine students' decisions

Survey: Higher learning is prized as an investment, but parents and scholars often shoulder hefty financial burdens in its pursuit.

By Jessica Hall jhall@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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In this July 1 file photo, student Angie Platt, 20, is seen on the University of Iowa campus. Although the recession is over, costs and concerns about job loss and tuition hikes are still driving families' and students' decisions on which colleges to attend and what to major in, according to an annual survey released by loan giant Sallie Mae on Tuesday. Nationally, college spending per student was about $21,000 during 2011-12. (AP Photo/Ryan J. Foley)

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TO READ the full Sallie Mae report, click here.

"It's been really stressful to watch. Congress is not hard on corporate banks, but they're taking a hard line with student loans. That doesn't make sense," McAvoy said. "The only way to go up in pay scale and move up economically in order for us to pay back our loans, we need to borrow more to get a better degree."

According to the Sallie Mae report, one-fifth of parents worked longer hours to pay for their children's college education, and half of students increased their work hours, too.

Rob Remien of Raymond is one of those students. He worked for three years as a physical therapy assistant to amass $45,000 in savings to help pay for school.

"I worked a lot of extra hours to help pay for school," said Remien, a health sciences student at USM. Remien is in the process of applying for financial aid to pay for graduate school so he can get a job as a physician assistant.

Meanwhile, Emily Downs of Portland, who also is studying health sciences at USM, said she's juggled three jobs and adjusted her course hours to manage school. She's also got five loans totaling $19,000 to cover the rest of her school tuition.

When asked about the student-loan interest rate debate in Congress, Downs called it "abhorrent. I'm really disappointed in the loan-rate debate."

Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

jhall@pressherald.com 

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