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student loans, usury, occupy, education, graduates, protest

U.S. students owe $1 trillion in loan debts

Students want loan forgiveness, lower interest rates


  • Yoojin Cho for WWLP

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Wednesday night, students, teachers and recent graduates participated in a nationwide movement that highlighted just how much students owe in loan debts.

One trillion dollars is the total amount of student loan debt in the United States, and about 1.4 million students graduate with debt each year.

Students who were at the 1-T Day event in Amherst said, it’s the combination of the tough job market and skyrocketing tuition that’s making it difficult.

Students who graduated in 2010 owe on average $25,000 in college loan debts. While some banks and agencies give you six months before you have to start making payments, some people say, it’s still not easy.

Patrick Burke who transferred from a private university to Westfield State University told 22News, “It’s hard to both pay my loans and still go to school. Some people I know they had to go to minimum wage jobs to start out with but then it’s harder to find somewhat higher paying jobs because of how competitive it is.”

Since 1980, college tuition has increased by more than 400%… And even though some federal loans offer fixed interest rates, the weak labor market has left half of recent grads jobless or underemployed.

“Let’s make it a right for everybody so regardless of what you can or can’t pay, you can make it there,” Jared Schy, a junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told 22News.

He said, “Why do we go to schools anyways? Do we go to schools so we can just go and get our job and work all our lives or do we go to schools to learn how to change the world and make it for everybody else? I think it’s the latter.”

Amy Mittelman of Amherst told 22News, “The cost of higher education has outpaced inflation and that really affects poor people, single mothers and working people who would like to go back to school and better their education.”

The 1-T Day group wants the federal government to cover all higher education costs and provide a one-time debt forgiveness.