Do the Burdens of Student Debt Outweigh the Benefits of a Degree?

Josh DeMontigny, Staff Writer

With college application deadlines looming, it seems impossible for SHS seniors not to ponder the complications that will arise with enrollment. The number one concern regarding college seems to be the same for most students: the cost. 

To combat the foreboding issue of student debt, many SHS students plan to work during their college years. SHS seniors Elizabeth Larkin and Joelle Shamatta both plan to attend graduate school, which will, unfortunately, add to their student debt. To help lessen the burden of these debts, Larkin and Shamatta both plan to work while attending college. Larkin would like “to be working throughout college,” as she has a “deal” with her parents that she has to pay for at least half of her tuition. Shamatta says she is “definitely not gonna work” during her freshman year, but she’ll “plan to get a job the following years.” Both are optimistic they’ll be able to juggle the hardships of college and a job in tandem.

SHS history and economics teacher Richard Kermond reflected on his experience with student debt, stating he “was lucky” because most of his tuition was paid for by his parents and the Coast Guard. Additionally, when Kermond was entering college, “the average tuition for a private college was 4-5 thousand dollars.” For reference, according to, the average cost for the 2020-2021 academic year was $37,650. Despite the obvious financial downside that attending college entails, Kermond encourages students to pursue a college education and earn a degree, as “having a degree opens all sorts of doors when it comes to building a career.” The statistics back Kermond up: According to the Social Security Administration, men with a bachelor’s degree earn around $900,000 more in lifetime earnings than men without one. Furthermore, women with bachelor’s degrees earn around $630,000 more than women without one. 

However, just because a college degree proves to be effective in building a career in the long run, many are still hesitant to start their adult lives with student debt. While SHS senior Tyler DiGravio plans to attend college to receive a degree, he has long been hesitant to do so. DiGravio stated this hesitancy comes from the fact that he’s “not currently financially well-off to pay for college,” so he’d have to get a loan which he does not want to pay for “years of his life.”

SHS senior Althea Dumet felt a similar reluctance to pursue an American college education, as she wishes not to start her adult life in debt. Dumet found a solution to the burden student debt would bring her: she plans to attend college in France. Dumet is registered as a citizen of France and the United States, but that’s not why she’s going abroad for college. Student debt in France is a fraction of the US, which Dumet stated was the driving factor for her decision. Dumet declared she is “literally going to France to avoid student debt.”