“I just couldn’t wrap my head around that,” said Cooper, a 20-year-old rising junior. “I just broke down crying, like, ‘I can’t afford to go to college.’” 

Source: Herald Online

Student at University of South Carolina, Isabelle Cooper, received a tragic reality check before she even got to school. While filling out her government aid forms, she realized that her degree at USC would put her $20,000 in student loan debt. “I just couldn’t wrap my head around that,” said Cooper, a 20-year-old rising junior. “I just broke down crying, like, ‘I can’t afford to go to college.’”

Over half of the University of South Carolina graduates leave school with student loan debt. At USC, the average amount their students owe has skyrocketed by more than 58% in the past decade. This isn’t the only Carolina school in peril, Coastal Carolina leads the state in public college student loan debt. An astronomical 74% of Coastal Carolina graduates left school with debt with an average of $35,207, a state high.

Jordan Hammett graduated from USC in May 2014 with over $100,000 in student loan debt. The nursing major said her balance affects all of her spending, any money she receives for her birthday or Christmas is put into her loan balance instead of a night out. “When you see how little the total amount has gone down, it’s very frustrating and disappointing,” Hammett said. “You feel like you put so much into it, and you feel like it hasn’t moved on paper.”

Another graduate named Jackson Gibson has $75,000 in student debt. Most of this debt is with private lenders who will not budge on interest rates or repayment options. The hospitality major works as a manager at a local pizza place. He said that the loan repayments are holding him back from pursuing a career and moving. “Coming right out of high school, you’re just so jacked to go to college that you’re not thinking about after college and paying it back,” Gibson said.

Some of these kids going right into college taking out these big loans don’t even have bank accounts. It’s easy to see how unprepared for such a big financial step these college students really are. With the constant rise in tuition fees, it’ll be hard to say when the student loan crisis will end or if it ever will.