Congressman John Carney (D-DE) hosted a roundtable discussion on Wednesday at the Bear Library to hear directly from students on the rising cost of higher education. A credit counselor and college professor were also on hand to discuss the broader economic effects of increasing student loan debt. Wednesday's discussion was the latest in a series of events that Congressman Carney has hosted to discuss making a college education more affordable for hard-working families.
"In many ways, students are the most important voice in this discussion. They're the ones taking on enormous debt to pay for college, and it's their financial future that is on the line," said Congressman Carney. "I want to hear from young people about their interactions with the college financial aid system, the information they were given before deciding to take out student loans, and their expectations for paying those loans back after graduation."
Over the past three decades, college costs have gone up 570 percent. They've increased at four times the median household income, and twice as fast as health care costs. Total U.S. student loan debt recently topped $1 trillion, which surpassed the total owed on both auto loans and credit card debt.
"I've experienced first-hand the daunting task of paying for college," said Eileen Specht, a senior at the University of Delaware. "By taking on multiple jobs, living at home and assuming tens of thousands of dollars in debt, I'm working hard to afford my education. Not only has this impacted my college experience, the student loans I've taken out will follow me as I try to find a job and start life as an adult. I thank Congressman Carney for seeking input from me and others my age so he can truly understand the challenges we face."
"We've seen a big uptick in the number of recent college graduates who need help managing their student loans to stay in a good place financially," said Chris Chaplin, College Planning Advisor for Clarifi College. "Clarifi's goal is to make sure that students and their families have more information upfront about financing college so they can make informed decisions about taking on debt. Congressman Carney understands that and we appreciate his efforts on this issue."
"Student loan debt has wide-reaching impacts on the economy," said Eric Best, a professor at Jacksonville State University and University of Delaware alumnus. "Young people are pushing off decisions like buying a car, taking on a mortgage, or starting a family, because student loan payments take up more of their monthly income. There's a ripple effect that impacts many industries important to a strong economy."
Congressman Carney has been seeking input from Delawareans for several months on the rising cost of college. Earlier this summer, the Congressman hosted roundtable discussions with parents, guidance counselors, a financial aid counselor, and college administrators to gain insight into the current college financing system He also hosted a telephone town hall meeting with more than 4,000 Delawareans to learn about their experiences and challenges surrounding the cost of higher education, and to discuss potential solutions.