POSTED: Monday, October 4, 2010 - 5:42pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 - 3:33pm
The number of UTEP grads defaulting on their student loans exceeds the national average and continues to climb. So what is the school doing to make sure students don't dig themselves too deep?
"Loans alone, probably may be around $30-$40,000" said Stephanie Gutierrez is a sophomore at UTEP. She says the stress of paying back her student loans is always in the back of her mind.
"Once I get my career going I'll have my house payment, and still school," she said.
Gutierrez has reason to worry. The national average for graduates defaulting on their loan payments is now 7%, up from 6.7% the year before. UTEP's default rate is even higher than that, at 7.4%. That's why freshman Malikah Williams decided not to take out any loans.
"I feel like they just catch up with you and what if you change your major, is your, major going to be enough to pay for the loans you had," she said.
But programs like "The UTEP Promise," for example, cover the cost of tuition and books for low-income families. Students must keep their GPA and attendance up to be eligible.
"You can always do more," said Craig Westman, the associate provost in Enrollment Services. He blames the economy; graduates are entering a dismal job market where getting a good job and paying back your loan, is getting harder. UTEP is trying to find ways to get the message out to students.
"Try and look at ways that we can be more intrusive, in a good way, but let students know the ramifications of what it means not to pay your loans," he said.
Gutierrez, meanwhile is hoping she can make it all pay off.
"In the end I think it's worth it," she said.