Student debt has reached over 1.5 trillion dollars nationally, over double the average from 2008, according to figures from the United States Federal Reserve.
California’s students average over $22,000 and 50 percentage of graduates face debt. Cal State Fullerton students average at $14,965 in student debt, according to the 2018 Lend Edu statistics.
Paydon Miller, the press secretary for a non-profit organization called Young Invincibles said low income students significantly impact the average taking out more student loans to afford their education.
Miller said many businesses are now requiring some type of postsecondary education for potential candidates.
Georgetown University estimates that 65 percent of all employers will require postsecondary education by 2020.
“We objectively know that a college degree is critical to finding a good job, but at the same time student loans and debt is skyrocketing,” Miller said.
In 2016, the majority individuals 63 percent of people with a bachelor’s degree worked in management, professional and related occupations. Earnings were highest for people with at least a bachelor’s degree and increased with graduate degrees, according to the U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics.
The Young Invincibles member said students will have the opportunity to make an impact on college affordability through the upcoming midterm elections.
“What young people should be asking candidates is, ‘what are you going to do to solve this problem,’” Miller said. “Students have the ability to look up and down the ballot and challenge candidates by asking how they are going to solve this crisis.”
Democratic candidate, Andrew Janz, said he faces his own student debt problem and will raise the possibility of Congress helping students limit their own debt on his campaign website.
“With respect to higher education, we need to reduce the cost to attend a four-year college. Students graduating from universities are saddled with debt and struggle to find well-paying jobs to repay their loans,” Janz said on his campaign website.
But Miller said he knows there are ways for students to limit their debt.
“The short answer is just make sure you are exploring all your funding options. There are obviously federal loans involved, scholarships. Make sure you are talking to your office of financial aid and just understanding that there are private or predatory lenders out there who may not give you a deal that is quite as advantageous that you might get through a federal loan,” Miller said.
Miller added that getting an associate’s degree or going to a community college to learn a trade is just as beneficial as the traditional four-year university.
In 2015, an estimated $2.9 billion in Pell Grant aid went unclaimed. In California alone, students missed out on $396,401,205 of unclaimed scholarship money, according to the 2015 study completed by NerdScholar, the higher education team at NerdWallet.
Graduate student Skylar Holmes said she could have avoided more of the debt she accumulated if she applied for scholarships that were made available during her four years at CSUF.
“I definitely saved a lot of debt by coming to a Cal State instead of a UC but I’d definitely try to apply for more scholarships. I didn’t realize until later on how many there were and you don’t realize people don’t apply for the ASI ones, so they are a lot easier to get,” Holmes said.