Loans are a necessary facet for the modern student

Jason Edwards Contributor

Andrew Porto said he feels the burden of paying for school.

Porto, a junior, marketing major, uses financial aid to his benefit, using federal and private student loans at Southern Connecticut State University.

“I pay for college myself,” said Porto, “and I take out student loans.”

Porto said he commutes from Shelton, and like most in the Naugatuck Valley and local New Haven area, Porto says going to a school like Southern was the best choice for him on the basis of cost, proximity and size.

“I kind of just chose Southern,” said Porto. “It is definitely a cheaper option rather than going to a private college like Sacred Heart.”

Porto said he goes to school, then to work in Bridgeport and repeats the process on a daily basis, throwing in homework to change pace once in a while.

“It’s definitely not easy to juggle school and work,” said Porto, “but I do the best I can to make sure I get everything done.”

He said he saves money along the way by limiting expenses and saving up for future expenditures, like paying back student loans, even in the midst of recurring payments.

“I have insurance and phone bills and gas to pay, and I manage to travel whenever I can,” said Porto.

According to statistics from Southern’s Office of Financial Aid to the National Center
for Educational Statistics, the average cost of tuition for an in-state commuter like Porto was $10,538 for the 2016-2017 year.

Come graduation, Porto said he will owe $42,152.

“I’m not worried too much about the repayments, but nobody helps me with my loans. All on my own.” says Porto. “College prices in general are already expensive but everyone is looking for that degree.”

Nationwide, the numbers about financial aid speak to the relationship between students and financial rewards. According to the U.S. Department of Education in a nationwide study, 85 percent of first time, full time undergraduate students were awarded financial aid in the 2015-2016 school year in public, private and private for profit realms.

In the same academic year, it cost the average American student $16,757 to attend an public institution like Southern, Central, Eastern or Western.

Southern students often seek on-campus guidance on how to manage those expenses. Lew DeLuca is a coordinator of financial literacy and advising who ‘talks money.’

DeLuca goes to various first year inquiry classes, holds ‘Smart Money’ talks with students, and in addition, speaks about the process of paying back student loans.

“We know you guys need the support,” said DeLuca.

He said students like Porto graduate Southern, and leave in debt.

“The majority of our students have financial aid,” said DeLuca. “Usually loans are a part of it.”

DeLuca said that students from Southern go on to pay back their loans from a period between “10 to 25 years” after graduation.

Wanda Cotto, associate director at the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, said DeLuca’s Financial Literacy and Advising program is a way for Southern students to seek guidance.

Cotto says her office “create and originates” student loans that are available through online student services, like BannerWeb.

The program helps students decide what they have to do to repay the loans, said Cotto, and helps them be prepared correctly for that responsibility.

“It is a great program, ranked fourth in the nation,” said Cotto.

The cost of going to school increases more and more every year. There is a 1.9 percent tuition increase for in-state, off campus students occurred, on average, from the 2016-17 to 2017-18 school years, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

DeLuca said the decisions that go into that tuition costs happen within the state.

“The Board of Regents look at the numbers and determine in-state tuition,” said DeLuca. “As costs go up, students borrow more.”

Cotto says that student loans are necessary in order to get an education, especially if students are paying for college on an individual basis.

“The reality is that education is expensive,” said Cotto. “It is hard for students to pay that without the assistance of loans.”

Porto said he stands by the choices that he had made in order to pay for his education.

“We all go to school in order to get a good job to payoff the loans that we took out in order to get the good job,” Porto said. “It is a bit of a ridiculous concept.”

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