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Higher ed, higher debt 

Street Smarts

As the price of a college education continues to rise, it makes you wonder: Is a college degree worth paying back the student loans for 10 to 20 years?

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Daniel Jenkins of downtown works in the fitness industry

Have you ever taken out student loans? Yes, when I was in college, as an undergrad. I worked two jobs and had scholarships, but it still wasn't quite enough.

How was your experience in trying to repay it? It wasn't tough at all. I just had a small loan, just for one semester.

Why do you think college is so expensive? If I was a conspiracy theorist — which I'm not — I'd say someone was trying to create a class system. My perception is that the allocation of funds is top-heavy, toward administration and away from teachers.

In 20 years, will the situation be better or worse? I worry for my kids, because if we stay on this path, only the very wealthy will be able to afford it.

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Ellie Brooks of Fort Collins is a research associate

Have you ever taken out student loans? Yes, but only as a graduate student. I had enough scholarships for my undergrad years.

How was trying to repay it? I'm still paying it back now. The standard payback was 25 percent of your income, but that wasn't affordable for me. So I'm taking 20 years to pay it back instead of 10.

What's the worst student-loan story you've heard? A girl I went to school with had over $150,000 in debt as an undergrad, then took out another $50,000 for grad school, hoping to be a veterinarian. Now she's going for a PhD, so she'll finish up with about $250,000 in debt.

Why do you think college is so expensive? I think the administration is paid too much, and paid disproportionately for the amount of work they do. And I know the money is running out for research.

In 20 years, will the situation be better or worse? It's going to get worse, until it crumbles. Something has to change.

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Marshae Blake of the North End is a student and fast-food worker

Have you ever taken out student loans? Yes. Right now I'm at [Pikes Peak Community College]. After this, I'll go to a four-year school, and I'll probably have to take loans out for that, too.

Do you think the debt will be worth it? Yes and no. Yes, because it's the only way to get an education for people who can't afford it, but no, because if you get too much debt it just gets too hectic.

In 20 years, will the situation be better or worse? I think maybe it will get even more expensive. For those of us trying to work our way up, it makes it hard, and you get envious at times.

  • Is a college degree worth paying back the student loans for 10 to 20 years?

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