Pittsburgh City Paper
Close

City Paper surveys college students about money

What are the financial realities of people seeking higher-education throughout the region?

CP Staff Aug 29, 2018 6:00 AM

The adage used to be “you can’t put a price on a college education.” Now, it’s “you can put a price on a college education, it's massive, and you'll spend the rest of your life paying it.” 

Talking about money can be squirmy, and while having open and honest discussions about it won’t necessarily level the playing field, it will at least make the playing field less mysterious.

City Paper surveyed a few dozen college students to understand the financial realities they face. 

Kayla

Senior at Chatham University (out-of-state)
Money in bank account: $3,000
Student loans: $45,000
Rent/room and board: $10,000 yearly
Job: Part-time
Wage: $10 hourly
Family financial assistance: None
“I’m graduating a year early to try and save some money because I still have medical school to go to. I’m very fortunate I got the amount of scholarships I did but I still have a lot of debt already.”

Kelly

Junior at University of Pittsburgh (in-state)
Money in bank account: -$58.12
Student loans: $40,000
Rent/room and board: $425 monthly
Job: Multiple part-time
Wage: $8.50 hourly, plus stipend
Family financial assistance: Tuition
“Pitt needs to institute a living wage.”

Jon

Senior at Allegheny College (in-state)
Money in bank account: $750
Student loans: $42,000
Rent/room and board: $10,000 yearly
Job: Part-time
Wage: $7.25 hourly
Family financial assistance: 40-50% of tuition, room and board
“Student loans are the only form of debt that stays with you even if you declare bankruptcy. I could get a lower rate on a $20,000 car loan over a $15,000 student loan, and my credit score has been 750 for the past five months. Doesn't seem quite fair.”

Annie

Senior at Point Park University (out-of-state)
Money in bank: $450
Student loans: $40,000
Rent/room and board: $430 monthly
Job: full-time
Wage: $11.50 hourly
Family financial assistance: None
“I’m dying.”

Austin

Junior at University of Pittsburgh (in-state)
Money in bank account: $14,000
Student loans: $12,000
Rent/room and board: $800 monthly
Job: Internship
Wage: None
Family financial assistance: 80% of tuition, room and board
“I run a small business to pay some expenses. And I use credit card bonuses to make money and responsibly build credit.”

Angel

Junior at California University of Pennsylvania (in-state)
Money in bank account: -0.52 cents
Student loans: $34,000
Rent/room and board: $450 monthly
Job: Work study, eight hours weekly
Wage: $4,000 yearly
Family financial assistance: None

What Others Said

“My parents have saved a lot of money to pay for college so I do not have to come out with student loans. I understand how lucky I am that this is the case.”
Jen
University of Pittsburgh
$4,000 in bank account
$0 in student loans

“I’m graduating a year early to try and save some money because I still have medical school to go to. I’m very fortunate I got the amount of scholarships I did, but I still have a lot of debt already.”
Kayla
Senior at Chatham University
$3,000 in the bank
$45,000 in student loans

“The 120,000 doesn’t even include my interest rate. I’m going to be paying off this loan until I’m 64 years old.”
Hannah
University of Pittsburgh
$525 in the bank
$120,000 in student loans

“I get free tuition because my parent is a faculty member, (which) is why I chose to attend Pitt — to avoid crippling debt.”
Katherine
University of Pittsburgh
$3,000 in the bank
$0 in student loans