A select group of students, parents, and professionals gathered to voice their concerns over college affordability to former governor of Ohio, Ted Strickland on Oct. 13.
A panel of two current students and one former student moderated audience questions for Strickland and shared their own personal hardships as well.
A roundtable style discussion allowed participants to freely ask questions and have a more personal experience with Strickland.
Students who did not RSVP were turned away if they attempted to enter the discussion.
Ozzie Oswald, a former student, along with Dominic Grossi and Katriel Israel, two current UA students, voiced their concerns over college affordability and debt sparked questions from the audience.
Zach Schiller, a professor of sociology at Kent State was among those in the audience, sharing personal student debt stories as well as many of his colleague’s stories.
Schiller said he is “swimming in debt,” and noted that instead of making two separate student loan payments, he could be using that money to be making car payments or house payments.
Many of the audience members agreed that they are holding off on buying cars and houses because their loan payments are so costly, or they simply can’t be approved for other loans because their debt to income ratio is so high.
UA senior Madison Esterle, expressed her worries to Strickland as well.
“We’re not going to be able to do the things we saw our parents do, like buy cars and a house because we’re so in debt,” Esterle said.
Strickland was in agreement that something needs to be done immediately about rising tuition costs and noted that some institutions need to be reminded that the students should be the primary missions of the institution.
Strickland said, “70 percent of all college grads in Ohio are leaving college with an average of $30,000 of debt.”
The discussion then briefly turned to the 2016 presidential election and which candidates the audience viewed as being the best fit to address college affordability and student debt concerns.
Jumping right back into the college affordability conversation, students reminded Strickland that students and their families are being forced with choices to compromise their education for affordability.
Several students noted that they plan to transfer somewhere more affordable and closer to home or even drop out of college at this point.
Acknowledging that students are left with minimal choices, Strickland said, “in America, it’s almost self defeating to go to college.”
In his closing remarks, Strickland encouraged those in attendance to watch the presidential debates closely and to pinpoint, which candidates are planning to address college affordability and student debt.