La Crosse students feel the burden of student loans - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

La Crosse students feel the burden of student loans

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – The cost of a college education is skyrocketing and consequently, student debt is piling up.

Seven out of 10 college graduates in 2012 had student loan debt, according to a recent study by The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), an independent non-profit. And the average debt has increased each year since 2008.

"It's definitely difficult and I don't have it as bad as other people have it either," said UW-L Junior Ellen Barrett.

To date, she has more than $18,000 in student loans, and that doesn't cover all her tuition.

"You do have to work to try and cut even every month to make your expenses," Barrett said. "Plus you're paying—using money from your parents to cover the difference in loans."

"It's difficult to ask them to help you with that and help you with living expenses every month," she added.

In living expenses alone, Barrett pays between $300 to $400 in rent, plus utilities, $100 dollars for groceries, and another $100 for gas and other expenses. That totals between $500 and $600 each month.

"I'm a full time student, so that in itself is like a full-time job... and then working anywhere from 20 to 30 hours a week between—I've had at the most three to four jobs at once," Barrett said.

"The average undergraduate in Wisconsin looking at $26,000 to $27,000 in debt. That's a very deep hole for them to have to start climbing out of," said Congressman Ron Kind, (D) WI 3rd Congressional District.

Nationally, the average student debt in 2012 was $29,400, according to TICAS.

Congressman Ron Kind says Congress needs to change that.

"There's also been a trend going on for the last couple of decades and that's less public assistance to these low income students and a greater reliance then on student indebtedness," he said.

"When you have those loans, it's so hindering to you for such a long time," according to Barrett.

She just hopes she can live life without worrying too much about her debt.

In August, President Obama signed a law that has the rates of federal loans move with financial markets.

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