YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Hundreds of young adults became Youngstown State University alumni on Sunday. While it was a great day for graduates, becoming an alumnus can come with thousands of dollars in debt.
“Right now, the average young person graduating from an Ohio college or university is carrying a $26 to $27,000 debt. That’s really tough to buy that car, buy that house and get started in life,” said U.S. Senator Rob Portman.
Portman says he wants to make a difference for future students, so getting a degree doesn’t come with as many bills and financial struggles.
“There are some student loan programs that can help,” he said. “I’m right now trying to get what’s called the Perkins Loan Program reauthorized because it does help some of these kids from low-income families who just have a tough time making it through those first few years of college, and intend to drop out.”
He says it is important to focus not only on getting kids into higher education, but getting them through it as well.
Portman says the country’s high school graduation rate could also be improved. Nineteen percent of Ohioans don’t graduate from high school, leaving them without the opportunity to even consider post-secondary education.
“One of the challenges we have in Ohio is that we still have a relatively low graduation rate from high school,” he said. “Having a high school degree is really necessary in order to get up on that first or second rung of the economic ladder.”
Senator Portman delivered the commencement address at YSU. He also received an honorary degree at the ceremony.