Report finds financial stress among freshmen

Recession impacts dependence on student loans

By Mike Celone | Section: Jan 29th, 2010 Issues, January 29th 2010 Print, News

The University of California Los Angeles Higher Education Research Institute released a report that found that incoming college students are facing more financial distress than they have in the past.


The economic recession has resulted in increased dependence on college loans and other forms of financial aid. According to the study, 53.3 percent of incoming college students require loans, the highest in nine years.

For many students, loans or scholarships serve as the deciding factors when choosing a school. According to the HERI study, 41.6 percent of students said that the cost of school was a “very important” factor for attending, the highest percentage since the survey began asking the question five years ago.

“Financial aid was one of the key factors influencing my decision to attend Tulane University,” freshman Matt Kennedy said.

Freshman Andy Freeman said he had similar concerns when choosing a college.

“If I had not received a good chunk of financial aid, I’m not sure I’d be here,” Freeman said.

Patricia Hinds, associate director of financial aid at Tulane, said that options for student loans are limited.
“There are fewer options for students because a number of lenders have gotten out of the business of alternative loans,” Hinds said.

Another problem is that more incoming college students have unemployed parents.

Linda DeAngelo, the Cooperative Institutional Research Programs assistant director for research at UCLA, said the number of unemployed fathers of incoming college freshmen reached 4.5 percent, the highest in the history of the study.

To finance their tuition, students are taking more initiative to find jobs, with up to 49.3 percent of students looking for jobs to help pay for their educations, DeAngelo said.

Many students are looking to the future when making their college decisions. According to the NERI study, 56.5 percent of respondents said that the college’s graduates’ career prospects influenced their choice of college, the highest it has been since the question was introduced in 1985. Also, the number of students expecting a career in business has dropped to 12.1 percent, the lowest since 1976.

Many current college seniors must start evaluating their post-graduation plans. Senior Micah Bluming plans to stay in school, in hopes that the economy will be better once he graduates.

“I’m shooting for a JD/PhD,” Bluming said. “It will keep me in school for a while and cost nothing after the first year. I probably would do it even if the economy was fine, but now I have an excuse if people ask me why I would want to spend seven more years in school,” Bluming said.

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