By Erica Rakowicz
erakowicz@my.madonna.edu
Student debt has about doubled from 2000 to 2010 and now one-fifth of American houses deal with the burden, according to a study done by a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data.
“The Pew Research analysis also finds that a record 40 percent of all households headed by someone younger than age 35 owe such debt, by far the highest share among any age group,” reported Richard Fry of Pew Research Center.
Some young students are under stress because of this debt burden looming over their heads and their future.
“I am nervous of graduating and not being able to pay it back, so I think I will have to go back to school and get more loans in order to have a career that will help me pay for it or at least to defer my loans until I find a job that will,” said Denisse Castro, Biology major.
Sometimes the worry of making enough to pay off what’s owed weighs in on a degree/major choice.
“The main challenge that I think I am going to have is when I graduate with a Biology major because there is not so much to do with it. I will be trying to pay back with payments and having a minimum wage job won’t be enough,” said Castro.
For those fortunate enough to have parental clearance in the way of tuition, there’s a different kind of pressure.
“I’m very fortunate and grateful for their help. I do feel pressure to do well because I don’t want to waste their money if I were to fail a class. I also worry that I will put a financial strain on them and jeopardize their ability to retire at an early age,” said Angela Pace, Biology major.
Pace’s parents understand the seriousness of student debt, and hope their help will benefit their daughter in the long run.
“She’s going into Biology to be a doctor one day, and after Madonna she’ll be on to something new, probably more expensive, and we just hope she can focus on school for as long as we can help, so she doesn’t have as big of a weight to deal with during medical school,” Rita Pace said.
Both Castro and Pace know that schooling is important and they both see bright futures, but they both see tuition as a massive price.
As student debt goes up, total household income goes down, which the study also noted. 
Madonna University offices hear different debt stories that make them aware of the concern about tuition which allows them to help students.
“We hear [stories about] those who have maxed out federal aid and do not have enough to complete their degree. Others depend on refunds to feed their families or pay their bills. Madonna cares a great deal about these students and offices across the University are designed to assist these students with resources that may help them,” said Colleen Kibin, Admissions Officer.
For students who are hesitant to dive into Madonna coursework due to tuition prices, Kibin has a few suggestions.
“Those students who are hesitant due to cost are encouraged to apply for federal aid which will identify what federal and state grants and loans they are eligible for. Additionally, students are encouraged to apply for one of our many scholarship opportunities as well as the thousands that are out there but just require work to find,” Kibin said.
Kibin and Madonna staff work to let students know what options and opportunities they have to pay for their education.
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Debt load weighs heavily on students, parents