By Daniel DeMarco |Assistant Features Editor|
CSUSB graduates have the highest average student loan debt of any Cal State or UC in the state at $23,656, according to the website projectonstudentdebt.org.
According to a previous article the Coyote Chronicle stated, “Sixty-one percent of CSUSB students graduate with student loan debt, which is 10 percent above the state average.”
A reason that this is such an issue could be related to college students who are also the first in their family to attend college.
Sid Robinson, who retired as the associate vice president of public affairs for CSUSB on Jan. 31, 2014 said, “About 70 percent of our graduates are the first in their families to earn a degree, and that certainly has to be more than most colleges and universities.”
Three communication classes took a poll to see who were the first in their family to attend college.
In the first class, 35 out of 38 students said they were first generation.
One of the students, Angie Burkhart, said the majority of her school bills are paid through grants, and the remaining sums are paid out of pocket.
Burkhart believed that being a first generation student did leave her at a disadvantage when she first entered into the college system, but that overall it was not too difficult to figure everything out.
The Internet was her key source of help through this issue, she said.
Burkhart explained that she was “too stubborn to get advising” and that she preferred learning things on her own.
Her stubbornness led to her borrowing more money then she might have needed too had she sought counseling.
The second class had three out of 18 students who said they were first generation.
Student Edith Garcia said that most of the school payments are covered by grants and that her parents help out with any remaining charges.
Garcia said she attended a junior college, meaning that during her junior and senior year of high school, she was also taking college courses and receiving help along the way to prepare her for college.
Despite her experience there, which she felt was her best source of help, she still believed it was hard going through the various steps in getting into the college system.
Student Ernesto Arvizu has his schooling paid in full by financial aid.
Throughout high school he was a part of the AVID program and said, “It was the biggest support system I had.”
Along with AVID, Arvizu did plenty of Internet research in preparation for college and said with these two tools, he was well-prepared and did not find it difficult adjusting to college.
Arvizu believes that if first generation college students are a contributing factor to the debt issue, it’s a problem that can be fixed.
“The money is there to go to college,” said Arvizu.
He said that there are “plenty of scholarships and websites out there,” students just need to spend the time looking and applying.
The third class had 15 out of 33 who said they were first generation students.
Students Devan Lee and Christina Raney said they depend mostly on loans to pay for their schooling because they don’t get a lot of financial aid.
Raney said that it was her peers that provided the most help with getting started in college.
Lee agreed that peers helped, but being in the AVID program through high school and college advising gave him a “very good foundation” for college.
Both students believe the high percentage of first generation students are certainly a contributing factor to CSUSB’s debt average.
They both said that “parents aren’t ready for the cost, and students are often left having to take out loans.”