Columbia University film school graduates who took out federal student loans have a median debt of $181,000. Two years after graduation, however, half of the graduates are earning less than $30,000.
As The Wall Street Journal discovered using Department of Education data:
The Columbia program offers the most extreme example of how elite universities in recent years have awarded thousands of master’s degrees that don’t provide graduates enough early career earnings to begin paying down their federal student loans.
Recent Columbia film alumni had the highest debt compared with earnings among graduates of any major university master’s program in the U.S. … The New York City university is among the world’s most prestigious schools, and its $11.3 billion endowment ranks it the nation’s eighth wealthiest private school.
“There’s always those 2 a.m. panic attacks where you’re thinking, ‘How the hell am I ever going to pay this off?’” 29-year-old Zack Morrison told the outlet. Though his graduate school loan balance is $300,000, he earns between $30,000 and $50,000 per year from work as a Hollywood assistant.
Morrison is by no means alone. For graduates of Columbia’s film program, debt is typically six times higher than annual income.
The situation is similarly dire at other top universities:
At New York University, graduates with a master’s degree in publishing borrowed a median $116,000 and had an annual median income of $42,000 two years after the program, the data on recent borrowers show. At Northwestern University, half of those who earned degrees in speech-language pathology borrowed $148,000 or more, and the graduates had a median income of $60,000 two years later. Graduates of the University of Southern California’s marriage and family counseling program borrowed a median $124,000 and half earned $50,000 or less over the same period.
Many Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly asked President Biden to adopt a dovish approach toward federal student loans. For months after his inauguration, lawmakers pushed the Commander-in-Chief to unilaterally forgive $10,000 in student loan debt for each borrower.
Most recently, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and sixty-one of their colleagues requested that President Biden extend the federal pause on loan payments until next spring:
The suspension of payments and interest during the pandemic has provided essential relief to borrowers and their families during this economic and public health crisis. Restarting payments, however, will present a significant challenge for borrowers, loan servicers, and the Department of Education (ED), and we urge you not to let the payment pause lapse when borrowers are still depending on this financial relief… Specifically, we ask that you extend the pause by at least six months — until March 31, 2022 — or until the economy reaches pre-pandemic employment levels, whichever is longer.
During her recent campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Warren faced backlash after she dismissed a voter who found issue with her student loan forgiveness proposals.
“I just wanted to ask one question,” the Iowa father said to Warren. “My daughter is getting out of school. I’ve saved all my money. She doesn’t have any student loans. Am I going to get my money back?” Warren replied, “Of course not.”
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Author: Ben Zeisloft