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Students Drowning in 'Insane' Debt Delay Life Goals

FILE - Students walk across campus at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont. By the end of 2017, according to the Federal Reserve Bank, national student loan debt in the United States was $1.48 trillion.
FILE - Students walk across campus at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont. By the end of 2017, according to the Federal Reserve Bank, national student loan debt in the United States was $1.48 trillion.

Mentioning the words "student debt" to millennials and younger people is like dropping a match on a trail of gasoline.

"Our total debt for credit cards and student loans combined is almost $150,000," said Matt Porter, 31, who lives in Lowell, Massachusetts, with his fiancee. "It's absolutely insane and makes it really hard to move forward with life goals."

Porter and other millennials say being bogged down by massive student debt makes it difficult to buy a house or start a family.

The first in his family to attend college, Porter took out $80,000 in loans to attend Boston College in 2005, hoping to become a journalist. He worked five unpaid internships, finding housing and food at his own expense. After getting his bachelor's degree in 2009 and a master's in 2012, he struggled for four years in television news. He made $22,000 a year, working at least 60 hours per week.

In July 2016, he called it quits.

Porter switched to a roof over his head, a wedding, and relative financial stability when he landed a job developing multimedia content and working with the press at the JFK Library Foundation.

He and his fiancee recently bought a condo and are finally planning the wedding they had long hoped for.

"It's very challenging as a millennial to buy a home. I delayed a lot of milestones in my 20s, like getting married, buying a house, having kids, saving for retirement," Porter said. "I should have been saving, but I had the student loans."

American colleges and universities are significantly more expensive today than when earlier generations attended. Between 1980 and 2014, the average annual increase in college tuition grew by nearly 260 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"There was a time when a small amount of savings and a part-time job could get students through college with little or no debt," wrote Mary Clare Anselem, policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation's Center for Education Policy. "But today, more students than ever are turning to federal loans to finance their college education."

Between 1990 and 2012, college enrollment increased 62 percent, according to the think tank's website. But the volume of borrowing for school increased 352 percent. By the end of 2017, according to the Federal Reserve Bank, national student loan debt in the United States was $1.48 trillion. By comparison, mortgage, or housing, debt was $13 trillion.

"This weighty increase in student loan debt presents problems for both students and taxpayers. A recent survey found that 56 percent of young people put off milestones such as getting married or buying a home because of student loan debt," Anselem wrote.

"Only in the last two years have I really made any dent in the principal of my student loans," lamented Porter.

Never ask a millennial "how much debt they're in," tweeted @bghsclarigirl from Las Vegas, Nevada.

Twitter user Kayla Muldoon, a student at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, took a tongue-in-cheek poke at the plight of student debt.

"Imagine the amount of homeowners if universities were free," posted Realtor Ben Clough on social media.

Theresa Maher and Taylor Crehan contributed to this report.

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Xi wants more exchanges between US, Chinese universities

FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping talks to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not seen) at the Great Hall of the People, on April 26, 2024, in Beijing, China.
FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping talks to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not seen) at the Great Hall of the People, on April 26, 2024, in Beijing, China.

Mutual understanding between China and the United States can be improved by having more university exchanges between the two countries.

According to Bloomberg, Chinese President Xi Jinpin told Xinhua News Agency that exchanges could develop young ambassadors who understand both countries. (June 2024)

Students learn protests can affect job prospects

FILE - Students protesting against the war in Gaza, and passersby walking through Harvard Yard, are seen at an encampment at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., on April 25, 2024.
FILE - Students protesting against the war in Gaza, and passersby walking through Harvard Yard, are seen at an encampment at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., on April 25, 2024.

Some students in the U.S. are learning their public stances on the Israel-Hamas war are having an impact on job prospects.

Financial Times reports that protest activities are turning up in background checks, and employers have revoked employment offers to students as a result. (June 2024)

UCLA names new chancellor as campus is still reeling from protests over Israel-Hamas war

Dr. Julio Frenk, the next chancellor of UCLA, listens to questions at a news conference, June 12, 2024, in Los Angeles.
Dr. Julio Frenk, the next chancellor of UCLA, listens to questions at a news conference, June 12, 2024, in Los Angeles.

The president of the University of Miami was chosen Wednesday to become the next chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles, where the retiring incumbent leaves a campus roiled by protests over Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza.

Dr. Julio Frenk, a Mexico City-born global public health researcher, was selected by regents of the University of California system at a meeting on the UCLA campus, where there were a swarm of security officers.

Frenk will succeed Gene Block, who has been chancellor for 17 years and announced his planned retirement long before UCLA became a national flashpoint for U.S. campus protests. This spring, pro-Palestinian encampments were built and cleared by police with many arrests, and again this week, there were more arrests.

Frenk has led the 17,000-student University of Miami since 2015 and previously served as dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and as Mexico's national health secretary, among other positions.

In a brief press conference, Frenk said he was approaching the appointment with excitement and humility.

"The first thing I plan to do is listen very carefully," Frenk said. "This is a complex organization. It is, as I mentioned, a really consequential moment in the history of higher education."

Frenk did not comment on specific protests at UCLA this spring or the current administration's response, which initially tolerated an encampment but ultimately used police to clear it and keep new camps from forming.

During public comment in the regents meeting, speakers criticized UC administrators, alleged police brutality, complained of a lack of transparency in UC endowments and called for divestment from companies with ties to Israel or in weapons manufacturing.

Speakers also talked about experiencing antisemitism on campus and called for an increased law enforcement response to protesters.

Later, about 200 people rallied, including members of an academic student workers union and the Faculty for Justice for Palestine group as well as students from other UC campuses. Participants held signs calling for charges to be dropped against protesters who have been arrested.

Block departs UCLA on July 31. Darnell Hunt, executive vice president and provost, will serve as interim chancellor until Frenk becomes UCLA's seventh chancellor on January 1, 2025.

In previous roles, Frenk was founding director of Mexico's National Institute of Public Health, held positions at the World Health Organization and the nonprofit Mexican Health Foundation, and was a senior fellow with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's global health program.

Frenk received his medical degree from the National University of Mexico in 1979. He then attended the University of Michigan, where he earned master's degrees in public health and sociology, and a joint doctorate in medical care organization and sociology.

Experts: US will have nearly 2 million international students by 2034

FILE - People line up outside McKale Memorial Center on the University of Arizona campus, Jan. 12, 2011, in Tucson, Ariz.
FILE - People line up outside McKale Memorial Center on the University of Arizona campus, Jan. 12, 2011, in Tucson, Ariz.

Experts predict the U.S. will enroll nearly 1.8 million international students by 2034, ICEF Monitor reports.

Most of the students will hail from India, along with China, Vietnam, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Nepal, Brazil and Mexico, the analysis says.

Read the story here. (May 2024)

UCLA gets its first international student undergraduate council president

FILE - The UCLA campus on April 25, 2019.
FILE - The UCLA campus on April 25, 2019.

An international student will lead the Undergraduate Students Association Council at UCLA for the first time.

Adam Tfayli, who is from Lebanon, won the presidential race, beating out five other candidates.

Student newspaper the Daily Bruin has the story here. (May 2024)

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