KATE LEONARD | Photo Illustration

College debt affects student families


BEN OLSEN | Scroll Illustration

The current national average of student debt is $32,600, according to The Institute for College Access & Success.

The class of 2015 will have to pay back an average of $35,000 per graduate, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Cheltzey Newman, a former BYU-Idaho student, said she spent her entire college career debt-free by simply researching and applying for different scholarships.

“That’s how I was able to pay for not only my tuition, but my housing and everything,” Newman said.

Stephanie Chidester, a senior studying communication, said she pays for school by working.

Samuel Beck, a junior studying mechanical engineering, said he is paying for school with scholarships and a little bit of grant money.

“I don’t like any sort of debt,” Beck said.

Daren Snyder, a husband and father of two and a sophomore studying mechanical engineering, said he has around $10,000 in student loans.

“I was taking online courses so I could keep my job and support myself and my family in that matter,” Snyder said. “But as each and every semester went by, those classes kept getting more and more difficult, so I started cutting work time.”

Newman said she is now married and that even though she was able to make it through school debt-free, that does not mean she does not have to worry about student loans.

“I didn’t know the numbers before we got married,” Newman said. “I don’t remember having a conversation with him about it until it was time to start paying. I was shocked when I saw how much his student loans were.”

She said her husband graduated with an associate’s degree from a technical school and had acquired $35,000 in student loans.

“I love my husband, and I’m proud of him for what he’s done,” Newman said. “But I wish we knew each other before we went to school because I would have actually talked him out of going to that school.”

Newman said the amount of debt they had caused her a lot of stress and anxiety.

“All I could think about was how much debt we had and that we were still paying off these loans,” Newman said.

Beck said he did not know what he would do if he found out his wife had over $30,000 of student debt before they got married.

“That amount of debt is really scary,” Beck said.

Chidester said that if she were in a relationship with someone with a lot of debt, he would need to have a plan on how to work through it.

“If he has a plan to work it all out, then that’s fine,” Chidester said. “But if he doesn’t have one, that’s kind of a red flag.”

Newman said she and her husband made sure to pay more than the minimum monthly payment.

“We’ve been married four years, and we’ve kept that up, paying more than what was necessary,” Newman said. “But it seemed like it took forever for us to get to that point where we felt like we were getting traction.”

Newman said education about debt and personal finance needs to start earlier.

“If I could have felt, before we got married, how I feel right now about the debt we have, I think I would have made totally different choices,” Newman said.

Snyder said he is not too worried about his debt.

“It’s something I need to do to create a better situation for myself and for my family,” Snyder said. “A house payment is no different. It’s a necessary evil that we all have to go through.”

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