Sen. Sanders discusses college debt with RHS students - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Sen. Sanders discusses college debt with RHS students

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RUTLAND, Vt. - Sen. Bernie Sanders stopped by Rutland High School Tuesday and at the top of those students' minds was the high cost of education.

When it comes to what they want to be when they grow up many students aren't chasing their dreams, but trying to avoid ending up stuck with boatloads of college debt.

Andrew Cassarino is an RHS senior planning to attend Union College. When it comes to his future plans finances are heavily considered.

"It definitely affects what job and major I'm going to pursue in college," said Cassarino.

"Let's talk about education, it's a very important issue," said Sanders, I-Vermont.

Cassarino and other RHS students talked books and dollars Tuesday morning with Sanders.

Sanders: Some of you guys want to go to Yale or Harvard, best schools in America. How much do they cost?

Student: $60,000

Sanders: That's right, $60,000 per year, times four years that's a quarter of a million dollars.

A recent report by the Institute for College Access & Success' Project on Student Debt says that student loan debt has risen at an average of 6 percent per year.

It also shows graduates with a bachelor's degree leaving with $29,400 in debt compared to $26,600 the year prior.

With the median salary for someone with a bachelor's degree at just $44,970 according to the U.S. Department of Education, numbers are often the deciding factor.

"I have three older brothers and for them it
definitely played a huge role. One of them in particular, he was deciding between two or three colleges and he ultimately went with one that paid him the most amount of money," said Will Peterson, RHS student.

"I think it's a factor in where a lot of
kids in this school are planning on going because it's such a huge deal to have to pay $60,000 a year for a lot of the colleges," said Lydia Gulick, an RHS student.

Sanders encouraged
kids to consider all their options.

"There are other ways to get money. Pell grants, federal grants, private scholarships, schools provide subsidies, you can work, but nonetheless, college is very, very, very expensive," said Sanders.

For some, their career choice will depend on the bottom line.

"I'm basing it on financial needs rather than something I'm actually interested in," said Cassarino.

Other topics the students discussed with Sanders were the environment and campaign finance laws. Sanders, who has said he is prepared to run for president in 2016 but has not formally made an announcement, brought up issues related to big businesses financing campaigns, while one student disagreed with him and said she thought if a candidate has good ideas, individuals should be able to contribute whatever they want.
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