Graduate & professional students will express their concerns about shouldering a disproportionate amount of student loan debt with Grads Have Debt 2 National Call-In Day!
Did you know the average cumulative debt for a master's degree is $57,000, a doctoral degree is $75,000, and a professional degree is $146,000?
And that graduate & professional students are no longer eligible for the in-school loan interest subsidy as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011?
And that the graduate-professional student default rate is significantly lower (6.1%) than the overall default rate (17.6%), making graduate students loans a safe financial investment for the federal government? (Source: NAGPS, Grads Have Debt 2 Campaign)
Texas Tech graduate and professional students will join others from around the country for the Grads Have Debt 2 National Call-Congress Event on Wednesday April 9th. To support this effort, the Texas Tech Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC) will host a local call-in event from 11AM – 3PM in the Graduate Center to help students call members of Congress and urge them to reunify student loan interest rates and reinstate the in-school interest subsidy. Congress needs to hear from graduate and professional students that the increasing and disproportionate graduate-professional student debt burden is unacceptable!
We’ll have phones, scripts, phone numbers, snacks, and coffee available in the Graduate Center all day so that you can call Members of Congress and express your graduate student loan concerns. We’ll also be gathering graduate students’ stories and points of concern to include in a letter to be sent to our state and national representatives. The newly renovated Graduate Center is in the west-wing basement of the Administration Building (Rooms 40 & 41).
We'd love to have you come by the Graduate Center to make your calls with GSAC representatives on April 9th, but you can also make your calls from wherever you are with these materials:
Download the call-in script here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/d6xhdlumhh4mdyn/GHD2-CallCongress-Script-042014-UPDATE.pdf
Look up contact info for your US Senator here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
And for your US Representative here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/
After you call, post a message and/or photo on the Graduate Student Advisory Council and Grads Have Debt 2 Facebook pages! Use hashtags #GradsHaveDebt2, #NAGPS, and #TTUgsac. You can also tweet to @TTUgsac and @NAGPS. Let’s keep the photos, posts, and tweets going all day!
Student debt in the United States has been an ever-increasing problem in recent years, and is now estimated to exceed all American credit card debt. Massive student debt hurts all Americans as it prevents students and their families from being active participants in the economy by limiting their ability to invest in major purchases like buying homes and cars, starting small businesses, and starting families. Simultaneously, it creates individual challenges for students and their families who struggle to find the financial support necessary to attain a higher education degree.
Graduate and professional students have higher debt burdens, on average, than undergraduates since they often carry debt from their undergraduate studies into their graduate studies. They are also typically older than undergraduate students and no longer have parental support; and instead may have families of their own to support. Despite these challenges, graduate and professional student debt has been paid little attention in the conversation about national student loan debt, and recent political efforts continue to strip away loan options for graduate and professional students, which increases their debt levels.
For the first time in history, graduates are charged a higher rate than undergraduates for unsubsidized Stafford loans and since 2012 have been ineligible for subsidized Stafford loans. Such Congressional measures threaten to widen the already large debt load difference between Master’s ($57K), Doctoral ($75K), and Professional ($146K) students and undergrads ($29K). And the recently proposed GOP Tax Reform Act of 2014 includes many provisions that directly affect graduate and professional students and the debt they will carry because it will
Make tuition waivers taxable.
Repeal the in-school interest deduction on student loans.
Repeal the Social Security tax exemption for students on income over $1,200.
Make forgiven student loans taxable.
Make education-related tax breaks only available for the first four years of college, i.e., not for grad/prof education.
The National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS) and its members launched the Grads Have Debt 2 campaign last summer in response to recent legislation that increases the financial burdens on students pursuing post-baccalaureate degrees. The April 9th National Call-In event continues a series of local, regional and national events. During a similar event this past December, students Texas Tech University and across the country made over 860 phone calls and contacted roughly 1/3 of Congress, urging legislators to act on postgraduate student loan inequity.
In March, Texas Tech graduate students Florencio Aranda and Katie Peters travelled to Washington DC for the NAGPS Spring 2014 Advocacy Summit and Legislative Action Days. Along with representatives from other participating universities, Florencio and Katie discussed the graduate debt issue with Congressional members representing Texas and other key states.
On April 9th, Texas Tech graduate students will again join others from universities across the country to amplify our message to Congress: Grads Have Debt 2! The purpose of the Grads Have Debt 2 campaign is to educate legislators and the public about postgraduate student debt and interest rate inequality and to give voice to graduate and professional students in the student loan conversation. The goals for this event are to
Reunify the undergraduate and graduate rates to reverse the current inequalities and
Reinstate the in-school interest subsidy for graduate-professional students
For updates on this national campaign, which is organized by the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students (NAGPS), like GradsHaveDebt2 and Texas Tech Graduate Student Advisory Council on Facebook.
Graduate education continues to be more expensive at a time when we need more advanced degrees than ever. The Department of Labor Statistics estimates that jobs requiring graduate degrees will grow nearly 20% in the next five years. These jobs will be crucial for reinvigorating the economy and continuing America’s growth; yet, the federal government continues to send signals to American students that graduate school and debt is not important enough for their investment. On April 9th, graduate students at Texas Tech University will work to change this trajectory by speaking up about the benefits of graduate education and the need that graduate and professional students face. Graduate education will continue to help our nation achieve its highest potential and we ask that Congress take action to reduce graduate student debt to ensure this is possible.
To learn more about the rising debt burden shouldered by graduate-professional students, check out this Inside Higher Ed article: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/03/25/new-america-report-provides-snapshot-rising-debt-burdens-graduate-students
To learn more about NAGPS’s Grads Have Debt 2 campaign, you can also download their tool-kit: https://www.dropbox.com/s/491akaksqtkfusc/GHD2-CallCongress-ToolKit