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Student Debt — Get It Under Control

FSU committee discusses how to help students get out of high student debt

by Published: Mar 21, 2012

For many Ferris State University stu­dents, find­ing the money to afford an edu­ca­tion is one of the biggest chal­lenges faced.

President David Eisler and the FSU Strategic Planning and Resources Council are rec­og­niz­ing this prob­lem and try­ing to fig­ure out how to help.

On March 13, Eisler shared a stu­dent debt pre­sen­ta­tion with the Strategic Planning and Resources Council con­sist­ing of facts, sta­tis­tics and chal­leng­ing ques­tions in order to find solu­tions to these ongo­ing prob­lems for students.

“In the last four years, the aver­age stu­dent debt has increased by 66 per­cent. If the debt con­tin­ues to increase at that rate, what will the aver­age debt be for a Ferris Bachelors degree in 2020?” Eisler asked. “This per­cent­age sug­gested to me that it will be $85,000. This can­not be the future of our students.”

During Eisler’s pre­sen­ta­tion, he shared that although 20 per­cent of Ferris stu­dents grad­u­ated with­out debt in 2010-11, five per­cent of stu­dents grad­u­ated with over $90,000 in debt. With that, 30 per­cent grad­u­ated with over $60,000 in debt, and 60 per­cent grad­u­ated with over $40,000 in debt.

“I didn’t know how bad this prob­lem was,” Eisler said. “There’s not one sil­ver bul­let; there’s like 500.”

During the meet­ing, the com­mit­tee dis­cussed ques­tions such as what Ferris can do to help more stu­dents grad­u­ate, how they can help stu­dents grad­u­ate more quickly and how to reduce costs for students.

Casey Baldus, a junior in graphic design, thinks the uni­ver­sity should do a bet­ter job with being more upfront about fees that come along with cer­tain majors.

“There shouldn’t be so many hid­den fees. With a lot of degrees, stu­dents have to pay for intern­ships, print­ing receipts or con­fer­ences,” Baldus said. “Tuition should cover the costs involved with class credit. They need to be more upfront with tuition not cov­er­ing all of the costs that go along with classes.”

The Financial Aid Office recently cre­ated a Financial Literacy page on its web­site. The pur­pose of this page is to help stu­dents and their fam­i­lies under­stand the long term effects and how to min­i­mize stu­dent loan debt.

The web­site offers tools such as a loan cal­cu­la­tor, bud­get­ing tool, cash­course videos as well as tips to min­i­mize loan debt.

Director of Financial Aid Sara Dew explained at the meet­ing that the office is work­ing to help edu­cate stu­dents on their finan­cial choices.

“We pride our­selves on how to edu­cate stu­dents and we have to edu­cate them on how to make finan­cial deci­sions,” Dew said. “There is only so much we can do. We can lead them to the water, but we can’t make them drink. Students need to think about how deci­sions will be affect­ing them later.”