Fighting student loan debt isn’t only the cause of nonprofits, college advocates, and some lawmakers. Apparently, people without any ties to college care too.
That was the case in Hawaii at a popular Waikiki restaurant where a waitress ended up with a $10,000 tip to help cover the cost of college. According to a report by KHON 12, Cayla Chandara, a waitress in Waikiki, hit it off with a couple dining at the restaurant. Through their conversations, she informed the couple that she had moved to Hawaii to attend college, but she couldn’t go back to school because of her student debt and the cost of living in the state.
That prompted the couple to leave Chandara a $400 tip, double the cost of the meal. “I just thought it was so generous of them. I never get tipped that big. I had to say thank you,” she said in an interview with KHON 12. “During dinner, they told me where they were staying, so I ran there after work to see if they’d still be there.” The couple was still at the hotel and Chandara gave them a thank you card and flowers. The next day the couple returned to the restaurant and offered to help her with her student loans which amounted to more than $10,000.
The couple requested anonymity but told Chandara, who is studying liberal arts and business, the best way to thank them is to do well in school and life. “I want to make them proud. I will take this opportunity with an open heart and be a better person that I can be every day,” Chandara said in the interview.
While the second half of Chandara’s story isn’t that common, the first half, dropping out of college due to the cost of tuition, room and board, and everyday living expenses, is all too common. According to recent data from LendEDU, more than 7 million people in the U.S. have defaulted on their student debt. What’s more, almost 30 percent of student loan borrowers have to move back in with their family upon graduation while countless college loan borrowers have delayed starting a family, buying a car or purchasing a home all because of student loans.
The country collectively owes more than $1.41 trillion in student loans with the average borrower having to pay back $28,000. According to LendEDU data, Hawaii’s average student loan debt per borrower is lower than the national average, coming in at $23,574 with 50% of graduates owing at least one loan. Even Chaminade University of Honolulu, which is a private college in the state, has lower than average student debt of $27,439. But Hawaii has something that many other states lack: a high cost of living.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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