Graduation marks the completion of academic studies, but for Vicki Moore, it means facing $120,000 in student loans.
Though the senior women’s studies and history major received Stafford loans, most of her debt is from private student loans.
She used the loans to pay for her in-state tuition and living expenses as an undergraduate.
The amount of debt incurred leaves Moore reconsidering her post-graduation plans, as she is contemplating forgoing a master’s degree for a high-paying job.
“The amount of educational debt I have has made me realize that I can’t continue on with my field and pay it off,” Moore said. “When I initially applied to Temple, I planned on doing a B.A. in women’s studies, followed up by a master’s and then a doctorate in feminist philosophy. Now, I’m looking into more profitable programs.”
She said she is concerned about her debt but finds the loans to be an incentive for her to pursue a graduate or professional program.
“Then again, had I come from a higher socioeconomic class, my parents could just cut me checks for my tuition, and getting a [$30,000] salary after graduation wouldn’t be a big deal,” she said.
Most college students accumulate some level of debt during their university years, but most are not as drastic as Moore’s.
Jackee Sadicario, a sophomore English and psychology major, is taking $14,000 a year out in loans, which will eventually accumulate to $60,000 by the time she graduates from Temple.
She then plans to attend graduate school but not without working to pay off her debt.
“I’ll probably work in some private high school as an English teacher with my bachelor’s in English while trying to finish my Ph.D. in psychology and pay off my loans,” Sadicario said. “But most likely, I’ll work for the government in some capacity for the steady pay.”
Sadicario uses her loans to pay for her out-of-state tuition as a resident of New York as well as living expenses such as housing, food and books. She also works part-time to offset her cost of living expenses.
“I would have been in a larger hole if I had gone to BU or Fordham or any other big-name school I applied to but I liked Temple better,” she said. “If I loved those other schools that were $48,000 a year, I would have made it work, but it just wasn’t worth it to me.”
At the other end of the spectrum from Moore is Tony Keddie, a senior religion major.
He is graduating early and debt-free.
Keddie’s first step to remaining debt-free was moving back home to Levittown, Pa., after completing his freshman year. To save money on housing, he made the 40- to 70-minute commute to Temple.
The loan Keddie used to pay for his freshman year has already been paid off.
In addition to the loan from his freshman year, Keddie also received scholarship money each year, as well as $1,000 from the Honors Program for textbooks.
He managed to stretch the money until graduation, so he never had to spend additional money on books.
Keddie has also maintained two jobs on campus as a tutor for the Mosaic program and the undergraduate liaison for the religion department. He is also a franchise manager for Rita’s Water Ice.
At some points during the semester, Keddie worked 50 hours a week while commuting to school as a full-time undergraduate. Earnings from his jobs and money made by selling his two motorcycles have paid his bills throughout the three years it took him to earn his bachelor’s.
“I’m one of those people who can’t not be busy,” Keddie said. “It took a little bit of sacrifice and a lot of work.”
Kathryn A. López can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.