Need more evidence that student loan debt is on the minds of a slew of people? A Tweet about financial aid went viral and drew the attention of Bridgewater State University.
Last week, a Bridgewater State University student, James Onuigbo, offered his comedic services for Bridgewater State’s upcoming Springfest on Twitter, telling the school to save their money on comedians because he will do it for free. Within minutes, the school tweeted back “Okay, tell me a joke.” His reply: “financial aid.”
Those two words went viral. Onuigbo woke up Saturday morning to around 1,200 retweets and 2,700 favorites. “I was shocked how much it caught fire, to be honest,” he told CBS in an interview. “I mean, I took a nap and I was at like, 1,000 favorites. I was like, what? Really?”
Onuigbo didn’t get the gig, but his two-word Tweet and the response it received underscores a real problem in the nation: student debt. The current student debt load stands at $1.4 trillion with more than 44 million holding at least one student loan. The average borrower owes $28,000 which prevents countless people from purchasing a home, buying a car, starting a business, and saving for retirement as many are quick to point out.
While the Federal Financial Aid program is designed to help students out, there are plenty of cases where it simply is not enough. Not to mention that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as FAFSA, is complicated, time consuming, and requires answers to more than 100 questions. On top of that, the process just got harder given the loss of the Data Retrieval Tool after vulnerabilities put private information at risk, but there’s more on that later.
Putting this story into perspective at Bridgewater University, student debt is a real issue since the average graduate borrower owes around $31,973 according to LendEDU data. An eye opening 98 percent of graduates have student debt, with 12 percent of them holding a private student loan. These numbers eclipse national averages including the aforementioned average national debt per borrower of $28,000.
As mentioned earlier, Onuigbo’s Tweet comes at a time when applying for Federal financial aid just got harder and more confusing. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Education took down an online tool—the IRS Data Retrieval Tool—that enabled borrowers to upload their tax information directly from the IRS. In March, the IRS removed the tool saying it was a precautionary move over concerns that hackers could infiltrate the system and steal tax information. Since then however, the IRS disclosed that the information of as many as 100,000 taxpayers may have been stolen through the vulnerability.
Author: Dave Rathmanner
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