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Graduate Student Debt Matters

By Leonard Cassuto

How many of us are aware of the amount of debt that our graduate students are carrying?

I certainly did not consider that question until recently, but it marks a path leading to precincts that professors must explore. When we design curricula or set graduate-program policies, we need to think about how much money our students will one day owe. If debt affects our students’ lives—and it surely does—then it should affect our thinking about how we teach, and about graduate education generally.

Like undergraduates, most graduate students take out loans to finance their studies. Their debt loads are increased by rising tuition costs, but without the same hope for a compensatory high salary that motivates millions of undergraduates to borrow large sums. The scandalously small percentage of Ph.D.’s who land tenure-track jobs is no longer news, of course. But even tenure-track jobs are not lucrative enough. For a would-be academic, grabbing the brass ring—that is, getting a professor’s job or some other intellectually rewarding position—can lead, instead, to a lifetime of debt servitude.

Continued at: http://chronicle.com/article/Graduate-Student-Debt-Matters/129812/

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