Unveils Expert Insights Examining Student Debt in Higher Education

September 12, 2017

Share on Social

Essays provide unique student, faculty, and economic perspectives; publication is the first in a series that will tackle complex issues in Higher Education

September 12, 2017 (Seattle, WA) -, a leading provider of independent college rankings and higher education research and trend reports, announced today the launch of its Thought Leadership initiative. This new project is the first in a series of expert panel discussions on topics critical to higher education. In the first installment, tackles student loan debt, an issue affecting millions of Americans due to the rising cost of tuition and the increased time it takes to complete a degree.

“Today, more than two-thirds of college students graduate with debt. Some of this debt can be crippling and can affect graduates for decades, determining and impacting employment and life decisions like marriage and buying a house. The threat of these future consequences can force students to pursue degrees and careers that they hold little interest in, in an attempt to afford an education that pushes them further into debt,” said Stephanie Snider, General Manager at

The initial collection addresses questions like, “what are the consequences of student loans?” and “what is a university's role in financial support?”. It is comprised of five essays written by a group of national panelists directly involved in the discussion of student loan debt. “We wanted to provide diverse perspectives, from new voices, that confront this complicated issue in a way that feels both relatable and informative,” added Snider. The panel of authors includes a financial aid expert, a professor, a recent college graduate, an online educator and career coach, and a young legal professional.

To view the complete collection of essays, please visit:

Meet the panel:

Dr. Anna Tavis – Clinical Associate Professor of Human Capital Management, New York University

Tavis introduces the concept of innovation in her contribution, “Innovation lowers costs, increases access to higher education”:

“Fortunately, technology is helping to create new pathways that can make education more accessible and less costly. We are creating tools, platforms and opportunities for people, regardless of their location or financial status, to access information and get the education they need. Technology has begun to change our learning model, to make it more agile. It doesn't mean we are replacing the traditional, on-campus, experience. But we are providing alternatives.”

Dr. Mark Kantrowitz – nationally recognized expert on student financial aid, scholarships, and student loans

In his essay contribution - “Most Student Debt Not Excessive, For Now” - Dr. Mark Kantrowitz writes:

“Our overall student debt burden is manageable today, but if we see more students taking on unsustainable loans in coming years, we might very well have a student debt crisis down the road. That becomes more likely with each year that the federal government, and most state governments, fail to adequately invest in higher education. We should be doing a lot more to make college more affordable.”

Tamara Gaffney - Attorney at the Snohomish County Public Defender Association

Gaffney's “Student loan debt - a necessary evil” essay suggests:

“I owe nearly $200,000 in student loans. People often think that's an insignificant debt for a lawyer, but my salary is far from the six figures some might expect. Living with that much debt means I have to be extremely conscious of my expenditures. My monthly student loan payment takes a big bite out of my paycheck and doesn't leave much for living expenses or personal spending, which makes things difficult.”

Dr. Melissa Venable – Online Education Advisor and Career Coach

Venable writes in her essay, “Colleges can do more to help students manage rising costs”:

“College decisions should be based on a comparison of multiple schools that offer the same degree program. Students should seek answers to questions such as: What is the cost per credit hour? What is the total tuition cost for the program? What additional fees are included? Itemizing the costs allows prospective students to develop realistic expectations about what it will take to pay for the programs they are interested in, and to compare costs across multiple schools.”

Teva Seale – Recent graduate, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga

Seale's personal essay, “Paying for education – choices” talks about trade-offs:

“So loans turned out to be a great option to help pay for college and a valuable bridge to the future. They helped me focus on my studies and get more sleep. But too much debt can limit your choices later. There's a decision to be made: do you want to trade hard work today for more flexibility tomorrow, or vice versa?”

About helps prospective students find the school that best meets their needs through proprietary research, user-friendly guides, and hundreds of unique college rankings. They also provide a wide array of college planning, financial aid, and career resources to help all students get the most from their education and prepare them for the world after college.

Hear from one of our experts on which factors are the most important for you to consider when choosing a college. Students launched the #BlackburnTakeover movement on October 12 with a sit-in and social media campaign documenting poor living conditions. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by Students for Fair Admissions, a group founded by a conservative, anti-affirmative action activist.