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Diploma and huge debts to boot: do student loans in the USA pay off?

Graduates of creative professions for a long time remain in debt for their studies, and "techies" pay off the debt in 5 years, the newspaper reports. MC Today with reference to research The Wall Street Journal.

Photo: Shutterstock

WSJ reporters analyzed data from the US Department of Education on alumni debt, as well as their earnings two years after graduation from the master's program. As it turned out, for many, the master's degree does not justify itself - it cannot provide a graduate with a job that would help pay off debts.

According to a study by the WSJ, graduates of master's degrees in film and directing from Columbia University in New York have the most debt. In general, training in this specialty costs $ 300 thousand. The average master's debt is $ 181, while half of them earn less than $ 30 a year.

It is ranked among the best universities in the world, and also ranks eighth in the list of the richest private universities in the United States with a fund of $ 11,3 billion. Due to the high level of prestige, everyone strives to enter here without thinking about the resources that need to be invested.

Research has shown that difficulties in paying off student debt are a problem for many US universities. Thus, undergraduates in publishing from New York University borrowed $ 116 thousand, and their average income two years after graduation was only $ 42 thousand per year.

At Northwestern University in Illinois, half of the master's degree students in speech therapy borrowed about $ 148 for training, and received $ 60 after the same two years. The situation is similar at the University of Southern California: students took out loans for $ 124 thousand, and earned about $ 50 thousand a year.

On the subject: How to enter a US university with full funding: personal experience

Universities justify their exorbitant prices because the master's degree provides “excellent career opportunities”.

There is a federal Grad Plus program under which graduate students can take unlimited loans for tuition and living.

It is beneficial for universities with high competition when master's students take unlimited loans. Since there are many more applicants than vacancies, universities are raising tuition fees.

Unlike a master's degree, a bachelor's degree does pay off. Michael Itzkowitz of Third Way has analyzed data from the US Department of Education on 2,2 million graduates in 2015-2016.

He compared their income two years after graduation with the cost of their education. Research has shown that in most cases, the cost of studying at a university for four years quickly justifies itself.

It was primarily about technical specialties such as electronic and communication engineering, as well as medical professions. In just five years, most of the students have paid back their tuition fees.

Higher education in creative professions often does not justify itself. The study found that most college graduated actors or dancers earn even less than the average high school graduate. “The situation is depressing, although there is nothing to be surprised at,” says Itskowitz.

Photo: Shutterstock

Alumni stories

In a video on Columbia University's official channel, screenwriter Catherine Dickman says, “Students from all over America want to study here at Ivy League University, one of the most famous institutions in the world. In addition, he is located in New York, in the city where dreams come true. "

This is how the university seduced Patrick Clement, the future Master of Fine Arts.

“When I dropped out of high school and was penniless, I had no idea that I would be attending Ivy League University,” says Clement. Nevertheless, thanks to a loan of $ 360 thousand, he paid for his tuition and graduated from the university in 2020. To pay off the debt, he teaches motion pictures in college and works in an antique store.

Matt Black graduated from Columbia University with a master's degree in cinema in 2015. At the time of graduation, his student debt was $ 233. Now, due to the accrued interest, this amount has grown to $ 331 thousand. Black has no complaints about teaching methods, but he blames the university for its financial predicament.

Matt says that he was told all his life that education gives him the opportunity to earn decent money and live with dignity, what he gets. not bad money, but because of all the debts, such simple human values ​​as marriage, family and his own home are not available to him.

Columbia University students have repeatedly appealed to the administration with complaints about the unaffordable tuition fees.

So, for example, in 2016, more than 160 master's students in the specialty "cinematography and directing" drew up a petition about how little financial support they receive from the university. University rector Lee Bollinger did not react to her, and the dean of the School of the Arts Carol Baker said that she could not solve the problem, because her "hands are tied."

Paul Carpenter, who graduated in 2018, was one of the students who signed the petition. He was outraged that an emergency fund was created for international students, while the Americans could only take out more loans.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York.

Like many Ivy League universities, Columbia University provides financial aid to students. For example, students from low-income families, whose income does not exceed $ 20 thousand per year, receive a Pell Grants scholarship.

However, it does not cover all tuition costs, so students take loans in the amount of about $ 21,5 thousand. However, data from the US Department of Education showed that loans for undergraduates across all specialties doubled in 2015 and 2016.

The university said that financial aid for undergraduates has increased recently, but this data was not included in the study from the WSJ.

In 2016, an international student who was taking a master's degree in filmmaking told the administration that he would not be able to continue his studies due to financial problems (federal student loan is available only to American students). In August of the same year, he received a message stating that since he was contacted by the administration with a proposal to provide a part-time job on campus. Perhaps he will be interested in additional work, which consists of caring for dogs.

The rector himself allegedly did not know that the administration had reacted to the student's problem with a similar proposal. According to him, by caring for two Labradors, students could earn only a little pocket money, but not pay off their student debt.

As for local undergraduate students in filmmaking, about two-thirds of them take student loans. According to the latest data, in the 2017-2018 academic year, the average debt fell by 5% and amounted to $ 171 thousand.

Grant Bromley received his Master of Arts in Film and Media in 2018. At that time, his student debt was $ 115. He planned to continue his studies, but eventually returned to his hometown of Knoxville and got a job at TJ Maxx department store. In three years, his debt has grown to $ 156. Grant says graduate provided him with the opportunity to develop in what he loved and to embody his ideas. In his spare time, he creates films. But no matter how grateful he is to the university, student debt is simply beyond his capacity.

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