student loans

Kristin Gourlay

Rhode Island is entering the second year of a program that repays medical school loans for doctors in underserved areas. The program, which is also open to nurses, aims to attract more doctors to the places that need them the most.

Last year, applicants won an average of $40,000 in repayments for agreeing to serve two years in a needy community. Rhode Island Health Center Association CEO Jane Heyward says the program is attractive to medical school graduates with huge loan debts. But it could be a boon for community health centers, too.

The Project on Student Debt is out with its annual report, and the news is not good for students at Rhode Island's colleges and universities.

According to the report, students graduating from local institutions in 2013 had the fourth highest debt burdens in the country, averaging $31,561. Rhode Island's rank worsened from fifth highest for the class of 2012, when the average for student loans stood at $31,156.

The national average for student debt was $28,400.

Elisabeth Harrison

Recent college graduates in Rhode Island have some of the highest loan burdens in the country, according to a national study called the Project on Student Debt. At the same time, Rhode Island faces consistently high unemployment and a sluggish economy.

All that made me wonder what it’s like to finish college with significant debt, so I set out to meet some of the graduates facing this problem and the experts who study it. I’ve been amazed by the response to their stories.

Elisabeth Harrison

Colleges all across Rhode Island hold graduation ceremonies this month, and many of their students will receive diplomas and then face thousands of dollars in student loans.  

As we continue our series Paying For It: Rhode Islanders Struggle with Student Debt, Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison looked at how mounting student loans are impacting students and the decisions they make about their future.

Thousands of colleges seniors receive their diplomas this month in Rhode Island and across the nation.  And thousands of them will soon have to start paying off their student loans. 

Rhode Island has one of the highest rates of student debt in the nation; the average burden on students in the class of 2012 was more than $30,000, according to a study by the Institute for College Access and Success.

As part of our series looking at what it's like to live with student debt, Rhode Island Public Radio's Elisabeth Harrison spoke with Lauren Asher, the Institute's director.

A new study by the Institute for College Access and Success shows Rhode Island students carry the fifth highest debt burdens in the country. The study looked at student loans for the class of 2012. The average in Rhode Island was $31,156.

Several other New England state also ranked high on the list, including Maine and New Hampshire, which ranked second. The average student loan rate in New Hampshire was $32,698.

Wikimedia Commons

The Rhode Island International Film Festival is underway.  One movie highlights the loan program named for the late Senator Claiborne Pell.

A documentary about Pell Grants will receive its world premiere in Providence as part of the week-long film festival.

The movie follows the battle Senator Claiborne Pell fought in Congress to pass the grant program in the seventies.

It was written and directed by Steven Feinberg, who’s also the executive director of the Rhode Island Film and Television Office.

A documentary about the fight to create Pell Grants will screen Wednesday evening as part of the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

The film is called "Pell Grants: A Passion for Education." It details the events in Washington leading up the the creation of the federal student loan program named for the late Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell.

As part of the screening at the Veteran's Memorial Auditorium in Providence, Pell’s widow Nuala Pell and his grandson Clay Pell will take part in a question and answer session.

Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed has failed again in his attempt to hold down college student loan rates.

The Senate has once again failed to pass Democrat  Reed’s legislation that would keep federal student college loans from doubling in interest. Reed’s bill failed on a procedural motion by a vote of 51 to 49. Sixty votes were needed to end the Republican filibuster.

RIPR FILE

On Capitol Hill Thursday the Senate will vote on a bill by Senator Jack Reed that blocks a rate hike on student loans. What’s called “The Student Loan Affordability Act” would keep the interest rate on federal student loans from doubling for two years.

Reed said that’s how long it will take Congress to come up with a long-term solution.

Staring down a July 1st deadline, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are looking at ways to control the costs of federal student loans. Senator Jack Reed is behind a measure that would overhaul how student loan interest rates are calculated.

Reed and a handful of democrats in Congress are pushing legislation that offers adjustable rates and caps the maximum interest rates on federal loans. The bill also allows borrowers stuck with high interest rates to refinance.

Rhode Island College Campus
courtesy RIC.edu

Internships are generally unpaid. But they will pay off handsomely under a new program announced Tuesday by the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority.  Starting May 1st the Authority, known as RISLA, will forgive $2,000 of a student’s loan if he or she completes an internship worth three credit hours. It will be forgiven upon graduation. 

RISLA director Charles Kelley says the idea is to stem the brain drain, the practice of promising young college students leaving the state for lack of work.