Student debt – get it under control

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

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.”