UH student loan debt decreasing in recent years
Despite the rising amount of national student loan debt, student loan debt at UH is decreasing, with 40 million fewer loan dollars dispersed within the past two academic years, according to a statement from the University.
The University hosts a variety of initiatives to minimize the amount of loans students take out. UHin4 students can lock themselves into a fixed-rate tuition plan, while the Financial Literacy program educates students on making financially responsible decisions regarding student loans.
For some students, financial aid can be the deciding factor on whether or not they can attend a particular institution.
“I got really passionate about the student debt crisis coming out of high school, realizing that a lot of my peers couldn’t go to schools they (accepted) to,” said political science sophomore Jacob Castillo.
Tuition at the University varies, dependent on residency status, the college a major falls under and classification. For Texas residents on a four-year fixed tuition rate plan, tuition can range from $5,316.86 to $7,130.39. Prices are higher for cohort transfer students.
Four mandatory student fees, all over $100 per semester, and potential miscellaneous fees are all additional financial requirements UH students must fulfill.
“UH offers abundant financial resources and programs available to help students successfully navigate their journey toward earning a degree,” UH spokesperson Chris Stipes said in an email.
With approximately one in every six U.S. adults owing money in the form of a federal student loan, higher education is not an option every student can afford to pay out of pocket.
“I have a lot of close family and friends right now who are struggling to pay for college, or really just couldn’t come this semester,” Castillo said. “This school is still technically a commuter school. There’s a lot of gas and mileage that goes into that.”
Financial stress low-income students may feel can be offset through a program called Cougar Promise, paying for tuition and mandatory fees of new in-state freshmen with family incomes below $50,000, who reach specific academic requirements. Additionally, UH Libraries provide access to open educational resources, potentially decreasing textbook costs.
While pursuing a college degree can cost students thousands of dollars, in some cases the return investment can be over four times what the student initially pays.
“According to the 2019 economic impact report, UH students earn an average rate of return of 15.1% for their investment of time and money,” Stipes said. “This translates to a return of $4.20 in higher future earnings for every $1 that students pay for their education at UH.”
Out of all students, 44 percent of freshmen coming into UH incurred debt, with the average debt of first time in college freshmen being $22,858.
“Whether its fees, transportation, books, (or) food, we are always cognizant of the challenges students can face and we are committed to offering support and guidance to fuel student success,” Stipes said.