Eye on Education: The College Squeeze

By: First News Staff Email
By: First News Staff Email

For nineteen year old college student Jenifer Llorens, these are depressing times.

"I’m very scared. I don't know if my loans are going to be able to go through for next year."

Llorens is a junior at the University of Connecticut, where she also works in the visitor's center to help pay her school fees.

Llorens is worried that money might dry up if the economy gets worse and student loan companies like Sallie Mae stop lending.

"If Sallie Mae is one of the companies that ends up going bankrupt, what am I supposed to do?"

UConn is a state school. Eighty-one percent of the students are from Connecticut. They pay nearly nineteen thousand dollars for room, tuition and meals.

But Jenifer is from Florida. She has to come up with nearly twice that amount every year.

As the recession deepens, more parents and students are finding it difficult to pay for college. Many kids who might have chosen higher priced private universities are now looking at state schools.

"In state applications, those are up quite dramatically, about 15% for us," Lee Melvin, director of admissions at the University of Connecticut, says.

Sixty miles away, students at privately-run Boston University where tuition, room and board tops $50,000 a year, are also worried.

Sophomore Jana Hofeimer says, "I am concerned about my parent's ability to fund my schooling."

Sophomore Charles Proctor says he’s worried about escalating costs as well.

"Two of my good friends dropped out because they couldn't afford to pay next year's housing and tuition."

Administrators at BU have just put a freeze on hiring and new construction to have more money available to help students.

"When there are more layoffs and the unemployment rate goes up and our students and parents are affected by it, we want to be able to assist them immediately," Joseph Mercurio, executive vice president of Boston University, says.

Mercurio, who runs the university finances, wants to maintain its policy of accepting qualified students, regardless of need.

"We have a need blind policy across the university. That doesn't mean you can meet the full need of students once he or she is admitted."

Last week the federal government stepped into help student loan companies. Jenifer Llorens will need it.

"I’ve worked so hard to get here, to get accepted into such a good university as UConn, Losing all of those would just be heartbreaking."

Jenifer hopes that the government’s help means she won't have to pack her bags and go home.


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