Gallatin hosts student debt series

Gallatin hosts "What's the Deal with Student Debt," the first in a series of events regarding student debt.

Millions of students across the country are forced to take out loans in order to pay for college — a reality many NYU students know to be true. As of 2014, 40 million Americans are living with student loan debt. In an attempt to help students tackle this overwhelming aspect of modern education, the Gallatin School of Individualized Study is hosting an informative series called “Student Life and Debt.”

With a total of six events this fall, this series aims not only to further an understanding of the current socioeconomic issues that many college students are dealing with, but also to give students the toolkit they need to overcome their financial stresses.

Gallatin senior Sophie Lasoff, one of the main organizers of the series, explained that debt is a crushing weight put upon students nationwide, especially upon NYU students.

“It’s atrocious is what it is,” Lasoff said. “Your dream school accepts you, but they know full well you can’t ever afford to go there.”

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The first event of the series “What’s the Deal with Student Debt?” was held Tuesday night and featured a screening of “Default,” a short film project by the United States Student Association. Ranging from a staggering list of student-debt related statistics to anecdotal tales of woe from college graduates that had allowed their loans to go into forbearance, the film served as an educational warning to college students. The program aimed at making students aware of how they decide to finance their education — especially when taking out private loans.

After the screening, the organizers turned the room over to an open discussion. Gallatin freshman Thomas Resnick said he is grateful for the opportunities he’s been given, and added he feels as though he owes less fortunate students his help in the fight against student debt.

“What we really need to make sure is that people are getting the adequate financial aid that they need, that tuition is being frozen or decreased, and that there’s more democratic control of our school’s budget,” Resnick said.

Resnick is currently working on a book, titled, “School Sucks,” that is a direct critique of the U.S. school system — including the institutionalized debt issue.

Members of the audience were shocked by the information presented during the night’s event. Throughout the screening and discussion, many heads shook with disbelief, accompanied by the occasional gasp or dropped jaw, as light was shed on the true horror of their reality — something that Tisch sophomore Gisela Zuniga echoed.

“It frustrates me that NYU is becoming a school for the ridiculously rich,” Zuniga said. “I’m just wondering: has anything been done? How does one even go about fixing this?”

Student activists have made efforts to correct the pressing issue of student debt. The Student Labor Action Movement is in the midst of a campaign to make NYU more affordable and increase student worker wages.

The Gallatin series will be bringing in various speakers, including blogger Erin Lowry of “Broke Snake Person,” to give advice for students struggling with managing their debt and loans. Lasoff said staying informed and bringing these problems to light will help NYU students more than anything else.

“Economics are often invisible,” Lasoff said. “But with events like these, they don’t have to be.”

Email Raven Quesenberry at [email protected]

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Student Labor Action Movement started a campaign called “Take Back NYU,” when they had no connection to the group running that campaign.

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