BY BRIAN CAPRIOLA
For a large majority of students enrolled at the County College of Morris, the ability to further their education is a highly desirable, yet often unattainable and risky aspiration. Although one could argue our economy is beginning to recover, the unemployment rate of Americans aged 18-29 is roughly 12 percent, according to an Associated Press 2012 nationwide investigation.
“The decision to not continue education after CCM is entirely based on the financial impact a four year university will carry,” said first year CCM student Kristen D’Arcy. “Fortunately my parents pay the tuition here at CCM, but I would be financially responsible for any tuition payments if I chose to pursue a bachelor degree.”
A part time worker, D’Arcy attended Montclair State University before transferring to CCM, where the tuition payment of more than $10,000 per year is virtually impossible without the use of financial aid. While one may argue against the decision not to further their education, it can be suggested D’Arcy is in fact making a smart financial move by avoiding massive student loan debt, which the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau puts at above $1 trillion in 2012.
Other CCM students feel there is no price too steep in their pursuit of higher education, and therefore will do whatever is financially necessary to obtain their academic goals.
“If I can pay upfront that will be great, but if not so be it,” said Fabio Ricaldoni, a native of Brazil now living in the United States and attending CCM for the second semester. “Student loans are a viable option because I will be attending Seton Hall University after CCM, regardless of my financial state at the time.”
Without question, the ability to pay for college upfront is in Ricaldoni’s best interest, as U.S. student debt statistics indicate. According to The New York Times, more than 37 million Americans have some student loans, with an average $23,300 of debt in 2011. Among those borrowers, 10 percent owe more than $54,000 and 3 per- cent more than $100,000.
Perhaps the worst case scenario for Ricaldoni would be to fall behind on his student loan payments, which currently 8.69 percent of students have, as also indicated by the New York Times study. Should Ricaldoni fall behind, he may be responsible to pay even higher costs for a longer amount of time, due to interest rates and penalties.
A certain faction of the CCM student body is waiting to make a decision to remain in college, with many financial questions still yet to be answered. Time is running out for last semester student Adam Linares, who is currently on a scholarship at CCM.
“Continuing a college education after CCM is something I’d really like to do,” Linares said. “If I’m able to get a scholarship, the ability to remain in school is more reasonable. With the job market the way it is, I can’t foresee a scenario that would justify me paying the money state schools demand. Not at this time, at least.”
Students such as Ricaldoni and D’Arcy, who have seemingly arrived at their decisions to either continue college education or not, had their own specific reasons for doing so. Linares, and many other CCM students, will be forced to weigh the financial risk versus reward of continuing their education after graduating CCM just as Ricaldoni and D’Arcy before them.