California Educator

November 2014

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E S S S A N C H E Z figures that by the time he com- pletes his master's in education in June at CSU San Bernardino, he'll be $80,000 in debt. He estimates his loan payments will be $800 per month on a starting teacher's salary. "I was hoping to buy a house after teaching for a couple of years, but when I looked at how much I'd be making and how much my loan payments would be, I realized there's no way I could afford a mort- gage," says Sanchez, a single father whose son lives with him. The new Student CTA (SCTA) president quit his job as manager of a grocery store to pursue his dream of becoming an elementary school teacher. "I went to go get an education to better myself and my family, but I'm wondering if I'm going to be worse off than if I hadn't gone to college, because the harsh reality is that doing what you love — teaching — isn't always going to pay the bills." Sanchez recently spoke publicly about the need for affordable higher education at a press conference held at CSU Northridge to launch a program called Degrees Not Debt in California, sponsored by NEA, CTA, the California Faculty Association, the Commu- nity College Association, and SCTA. He was joined by NEA President Lily Eskelsen García and CTA Board member Theresa Montaño, a CSU Northridge professor who is still pay- ing off $79,000 in student loans, mostly from graduate school at UCLA. "I think, as a country, we need to be push- ing the Degrees Not Debt campaign and let Washington politicians know that we as a soci- ety should be valuing education for the future of this country and pushing reforms that are desperately needed to make higher education affordable for students," says Sanchez. Debt going up, up, up As college costs skyrocket and federal student aid lags, many students are forced to borrow staggering amounts of money to pay for higher education. Existing student debt now exceeds $1.2 trillion and is higher than credit card debt in this country. The average student owes $29,400, but some report owning 10 times as much. At these levels, student debt isn't just a burden, it's a barrier to millions of Americans seeking college degrees. The number of California undergraduates taking out federal loans to pay for college has increased by 75 percent J Priority needs to be Degrees Not Debt Making college affordable Feature F o r Christiana Parish, a n i n c o m e - b a s e d p l a n t h a t l o w e r e d h e r m o n t h l y p a y m e n t s h a s b e e n a l i f e s a v e r i n r e p a y i n g c o l l e g e l o a n s . 32

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