MILLERSVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – When Channel Lowery walks the Millersville University campus, a number follows close behind her. $50,000 creeps around her shoulder, the amount of student debt the first-year graduate has already accumulated.
“I thought every student had a substantial amount of debt,” Lowery said. “I had to take out private loans to subsidize my education. I thought that was normal.”
Lowery’s high amount of debt is not uncommon in the state. Pennsylvania ranks second in student debt.
The average graduate leaves school with nearly $35,000 in debt while the national debt of students hovers at $1.5 trillion.
“At the undergraduate level, we’re in a society where you need to have an education to be able to get a good job,” Lowery said.
She was one of the students involved in a roundtable discussion on Thursday who said they began their studies not knowing how much they’re taking on.
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, also present at the meeting, said a solution could involve mandatory debt counseling.
“We heard about loan refund checks,” DePasquale said. “Some students get the check and they don’t understand it’s a loan refund. They don’t have to spend it and can return that money. Instead, students spend that money and that adds to their total debt.”
Students understand more work needs to be done to solve the student debt crisis, but Lowery needs answers sooner rather than later as her debt continues to rise.