TCU senior plans student debt discussion


First-year political science major Victor Norris works on a financial aid approval form, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Fort Worth, Texas.

A TCU student sat in on a U.S. Senate committee meeting on whether universities should be responsible for paying some student debt. Now, he is bringing the discussion of student debt to campus.

Bryan Tony, a senior economics and political science double major, said he wants students to have a better understanding of rising tuition rates so they can advocate or protest for themselves and “learn about ways that we can work to ensure that college remains affordable to all people.”

The average college graduate in 2014 left with nearly $29,000 of debt, according to a recent project by The Institute for College Access & Success.

Tony coordinated the event with the John V. Roach Honors College, the Government Affairs and Advocacy Program and Student Development Services’ “One Million Reasons” financial literacy campaign.

The event’s guest speaker is José Eduardo Sánchez, the southern regional organizing director for Young Invincibles, a national nonprofit advocacy group for young adults. Panelists include Timeka Gordon, the TCU Community Scholars program director; Chelsea Alexander, a TCU alumna and senior financial advisor with Merrill Lynch; and Mike Scott, TCU’s director of scholarship and financial aid.

Scott said student debt is a “perfectly reasonable investment,” but students do not know how to balance their potential incomes with the loans they take out.

Tony said even students with payment plans may have problems.

“The reality is that if you are unable to find a job or make a living at the same time as paying off these student loans, you can default on them,” Tony said. “That has serious implications on your credit and being able to take out loans for a future home.”

TCU tuition has increased about $8,000 since 2011, according to the 2015 TCU Fact Book, but Scott said student debt has actually decreased.

“What a lot of people don’t know, or don’t realize, is that a fair amount of that additional tuition revenue goes into financial aid, so that helps to keep the need for the loans down,” Scott said.

The discussion will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. on Jan. 27 in the Dee J. Kelly Alumni Center.

First-year business major Kenzie Holme discusses student debt.