An uphill battle

It’s problematic that Temple was nationally ranked as one of 25 universities with the most student debt.

The Temple News consistently addresses tuition, the state budget, debt and student loans in our coverage of the Temple Community. We’ve editorialized on the state budget and commented on our student loans. We’ve cited comments from President Theobald when he explained he is more concerned with student debt than he is with rising tuition.

“Debt limits your options once you graduate,” he told The Temple News in August. “If you take a look at differences across students and how much debt they take on, how long it takes to get their degree is the primary deterrent.”

Last Thursday, the Brookings Institution’s biannual economics journal published a study revealing the 25 “Colleges whose students owe the most, 2000 vs. 2014.” Temple ranked No. 18 on the list in 2014, and No. 7 in 2000.

This “so-called student loan crisis” exceeds $1.1 trillion in the US, the study says. It identifies the increase in default as an increase in borrowers attending “for-profit schools and, to a lesser extent, community colleges and other non-selective institutions whose students had historically composed only a small share of student borrowing.”

As one of four state-related universities in Pennsylvania, where does Temple fit into this conversation?

In 2000, Temple ranked No. 7 on the list, racking up $1.5 billion in debt. Since then, Temple has gone down the list by 11 schools, however increased $4.3 billion in debt, proving recent initiatives and perhaps even Theobald’s arrival at the university, to be effective.

In part, students have to be held responsible for how much they borrow, as well how many additional semesters it takes them to earn a degree. Student Financial Services plays a part in determining if we can take out year-long or semester-long loans, making it easier to over-borrow.

The president’s insistence on programs like “Fly in 4” are meant to limit student debt and focus student efforts on graduating in four years. The program was only implemented two years ago, so its benefits are yet to be seen. But the fact that Temple is on the list at all is a problem.

The study shows the university’s progress, and perhaps how far it has to go in the conversation concerning

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