Christine Romans delves into the issue of college tuition and student debt this morning, an issue at the forefront of the election for young Americans. She speaks with Jackie Giovaniello, who graduated from Brown University this year and decided not to head straight to medical school. Jackie instead took a research job at Sloan-Kettering Hospital to help pay off her student loans, which adds up to $100,000. "It's nice to have a paying job, full-time, where I can pay back part of my student loans before going to med school and possibly adding on a lot more," Jackie says.
Jackie is burdened with this enormous debt because she didn’t qualify for many grants. Her middle class family is considered too wealthy under the current standards, yet not wealthy enough to afford the tuition of over $50,000 per year for Brown. "When you're in the middle class, you are a normal suburban family. But you just don't make an outrageous amount of money so you can't pay for these outrageous prices for tuition, you know," says Giovaniello. She’s one of many young people with the same predicament; the reason student loan debt hit $1 trillion last year and became a key issue in the election.
Romans explains President Obama’s present actions and second term proposals to alleviate the burden as well as Mitt Romney’s plans to help students. While the candidates have widely differing solutions, the students see one problem. They feel left out in the cold.
"A lot of people who don't have students in college or don't have kids my age just think that, oh, you're either wealthy enough to go to college or you get financial aid from the government. It's that simple,” Giovaniello says. “But it's not that simple.”
Students who are bright and driven will do well no matter where they attend college. Point being, this bright student probably could have found wonderful merit aid opportunities at schools that valued her goals and abilities (rather than going to a school that put the family in so much debt.... just for UNDERGRADUATE work!). After all, the medical degree she is seeking will be her most important degree (and Brown has a great MEDICAL school) – that's where students should "go into debt" rather than on the undergraduate side of things.
I talk about this approach at my blog: http://www.collegesearchgameplan.com
If students like this have goals for medical school, or other graduate work that will require more debt, they should be more thoughtful in considering schools for their undergraduate work that will give them greater merit aid opportunities. The Ivy's don't offer merit aid. Only "need-based" aid.
After all, where she (or any student, for that matter) attends medical school is what really matters in the end. Not the name on an undergraduate degree.
Good luck to her and all that are in this type of situation. I talk more about affordability here: http://www.collegesearchgameplan.com