AFT On Campus

Fall 2015

Feature Story
Steep
The high cost of living with student debt

The high cost of living with student debt.

By Virginia Myers

Tomi Stahlberg just graduated from the University of Helsinki, a prestigious institution in Finland. He has a master’s degree in history, a field he chose because he loves it, not because a career in history would be the moneymaker he’d need to pay off his student loans.

That’s because Stahlberg didn’t need student loans for tuition: For him, and for everyone around him, higher education is free.

For Sam Perry, a college graduate in the United States, the situation is entirely different. His parents covered undergraduate tuition for a history degree at the University of Massachusetts, but he was on his own for law school. He enrolled in a night program so he could work during the day, and saved on rent by living with his mother. Still, he graduated with more than $100,000 in student debt, and took the first job that fit, rather than holding out for the government job he would have preferred; he simply couldn’t delay starting to pay off his loans.

- See more at: http://www.aft.org/periodical/aft-campus/fall-2015/steep#sthash.wcWM0MPq...

Tomi Stahlberg just graduated from the University of Helsinki, a prestigious institution in Finland. He has a master’s degree in history, a field he chose because he loves it, not because a career in history would be the moneymaker he’d need to pay off his student loans.

That’s because Stahlberg didn’t need student loans for tuition: For him, and for everyone around him, higher education is free.

For Sam Perry, a college graduate in the United States, the situation is entirely different. His parents covered undergraduate tuition for a history degree at the University of Massachusetts, but he was on his own for law school. He enrolled in a night program so he could work during the day, and saved on rent by living with his mother. Still, he graduated with more than $100,000 in student debt, and took the first job that fit, rather than holding out for the government job he would have preferred; he simply couldn’t delay starting to pay off his loans.

Read more image

Also in this issue: