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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The heavy weight of student debt and how to lift it

A+student+leaves+The+One+Stop%2C+a+student+services+center+located+on+the+Upper+Level+of+the+Campus+Center.+Photo+by+Olivia+Reid+%2F+Photography+Editor.
Olivia Reid
A student leaves The One Stop, a student services center located on the Upper Level of the Campus Center. Photo by Olivia Reid / Photography Editor.

In our capitalist society, it’s not uncommon to hear about someone “drowning” in debt, especially with the soaring costs of education. With student loans now a trillion-dollar industry in the United States, 45 million people collectively owe $1.6 trillion. [1] This number isn’t far behind the gross domestic product of places like Brazil or Australia! [2] Even the average debt for new graduates is staggering, often exceeding $37,090 and even potentially reaching over $100,000 due to interest rates. [3]

These figures can make the idea of attending college seem terrifying, causing some people to put their educational pursuits on hold. However, for those determined to pursue higher education, navigating the financial landscape becomes crucial. While student loans may feel inevitable for many, there are numerous alternative options available to help alleviate the burden of attending college. 

One such avenue is tapping into the resources offered by the financial aid office here at UMass Boston, such as assistance with completing the FAFSA and guidance on scholarships and grants. Scholarships and grants provide opportunities for students to secure free financial aid based on various criteria, including career goals and marginalized identities. 

While some may not apply for me, such as the Conway Family Fund, which is targeted to those in school for health-care fields, there are so many others that can. There are different scholarships based on the year you’re in, your major and even your ethnicity. There’s truly something out there for everyone, so don’t let the vast number of scholarships overwhelm you into thinking you won’t find something! 

There are also scholarship websites outside of UMass Boston. Past teachers and professors have advised me to never sign up for scholarships that ask for money to register. There are so many free websites, such as Scholarships.com, that truly can help you find what you need. However, outside scholarships are applied to your financial aid differently, so if you do win one, I’d speak with UMass Boston’s financial aid office to make sure you get it applied correctly! 

UMass Boston provides access to many scholarships and grants through its website, thankfully catering to the diversity of our student body. While the application process itself may seem daunting, overcoming mental barriers like rejection anxiety can lead to a multitude of beneficial outcomes. Winning scholarships not only eases financial strain but also underscores the accessibility of higher education.  

Affording college is undoubtedly challenging, especially amidst rising inflation rates. However, utilizing financial resources like scholarships can significantly ease the financial burden and make education more accessible. With deadlines for the Fall 2024 semester applications approaching, now is as good a time as any to get started on filling out some scholarships! 

From personal experience, I can attest that the journey is worth the effort. Taking advantage of the available resources and seeking assistance from the Financial Aid office can empower students to navigate the financial complexities of higher education. So, as you embark on your college journey, remember that financial aid is within reach and that with determination, you can overcome any of the challenges that are ahead. Good luck! 

 

SOURCES: 

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/08/26/your-money/student-loan-forgiveness-debt.html  

[2] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD  

[3] https://www.bestcolleges.com/research/average-student-loan-debt/  

About the Contributors
Mercy Moncada, Opinions Writer
Olivia Reid, Photo Editor