Student Debt Crisis: Millennials are Paying the Price


Student debt is at an all time high throughout the nation, and Manhattan College students are paying the price.

College tuition has been gradually increasing since the 1980s. It has risen to a point where college graduates are now struggling to be financially stable.

Based on the Consumer Price Index, which “measures inflation as experienced by consumers in their day-to-day living expenses,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of college tuition has greatly surpassed the price of U.S. homes and the general C.P.I. This increase in tuition has resulted in the student debt crisis that is commonly known by students.

Within the past few decades, the cost of living has increased, which directly affects the cost of attending a higher level education institution. However, the rate at which college tuition has increased, far exceeds the rate of the cost of living. According to a report in 2011 from Demos, “The Economic State of Young America,” the “average tuition at private 4-year colleges nearly tripled in a generation, increasing from $9,500 in the 1980 academic year to $27,300 in 2010.”

With college tuition nearly tripling the amount since the 1980s, students are now faced with the question of how they will cover these costs that are essentially inevitable. The option to not attend college is rarely available, in most cases students have to attend in order to enter the job market.

Sociology professor Cory Blad often questions his students in class as to why they are in college.

“I end up asking my students all the time, you know, how many of you really chose to go to college, or was that a concluded choice that was already done and made for you,” he said.

With most entry-level jobs requiring employees to have some sort of college degree, people need to go to college.

“When people sit down and think about it, they’re like yeah no it really wasn’t, you know, not going [to college] wasn’t really an option,” Blad said.

This idea that students don’t really have an option other than college, tends to be problematic due to the fact that attending college will mean possibly taking out loans to supplement the costs.

With all of this in mind, it’s important to remember that when students graduate from college, they are not always guaranteed a job because of the rise of unemployment in the nation.

Mario Fava, the director of finance of a local private high school and a former Manhattan College student, states that this is one of the major obstacles college students face.

“Will I actually be able to get a job after spending x-amount of money to earn a degree for a job in what I study has been the dilemma since the age of industrialization,” Fava said.

With the constant reminders of filling out FAFSA, applying for scholarships, and finding work-study, students are aware of this crisis and understand that they are part of the generation who will be affected the most by it. Therefore, many also understand the importance of planning ahead and being prepared for what the future could hold.

Sonia Ethakkan, a freshman at the MC, states that her concern for the possibility of being in debt when she graduates is minor, however this does not stop her from having a backup plan just in case.

“If I need more financial support, I would look for scholarships and good loan borrowing programs,” Ethakkan said.

Ethakkan is already preparing for the possibility of being in debt after college despite this idea being four years away, for some students this may soon become a reality.

Jhosped Dufflart, a senior at the College, said that although he is aware of the student debt crisis, his concern for it is minimal.

“I’m not concerned about it because I chose a major that will provide me an ample working environment that earns me a good living,” Dufflart said. “Work in a field that will provide me an income where I can afford to pay loans that I have taken out.”

Manhattan College, like most private higher level of education institutions, is also a business. Blad said one of the concerns private institutions have is to keep school affordability while also making enough money to stay afloat.

“How do you manage affordability concerns, while also realizing that your ability to do things as simple as keeping the lights on, is tied to the amount of revenue you have coming in as a non-profit institution,” Blad said.