The ongoing student loan crisis has been a cause of concern for many young Americans seeking to pursue higher education, and Lee’s student body is no exception.
The statistics of the student loan crisis, as reported by Forbes, have a cumulative total of $1.52 trillion in student debt owed by Americans, with the average student owing over $37,000.
According to Lee’s website, full-time tuition for one semester is listed as $8,520. If a student lives on campus, room and board tacks on an additional $4,615. The resulting total of $13,135 covers most of the cost of a single semester.
Fortunately, the cost of attending Lee is not the only five-figure sum related to student finances. The average financial aid package given to a full-time student was $12,666 in the 2017-2018 academic year, according to Lee’s Director of Financial Aid Marian Dill.
“Lee’s model is ‘make the college experience as affordable as possible, and help students obtain as much aid as possible,’” Dill said. “We have perennially been among the least expensive private schools out there.”
Last year, Lee was dubbed the “most affordable Christian College in the United States” by Christian Universities Online, with almost 3,600 students receiving grant money or scholarship aid that school year.
Despite the affordability of Lee, the nuisance and trouble posed by student loans persists among some students.
Senior anthropology major Kelly Wnuk said she is among students who suspect that student loans will negatively impact their future.
“I think [student loans are] probably going to make it a little bit tougher to get an apartment or a place of my own after I graduate because I will be busy paying [them] off,” Wnuk said.
Wnuk expressed her frustration with the pricing of colleges today but acknowledged Lee’s willingness to work to financially support students.
“Going to Lee is expensive, [but] our tuition costs a lot less than what a lot of other places could cost,” Wnuk said. “I am grateful for that.”
While undergraduates can be expected to pay roughly the same amount of money for their degree at Lee no matter their major, their financial future in graduate school varies greatly depending on the practice.
Sophomore double major in biochemistry and disaster and healthcare missions management Noah White said the graduate school loans he will have to pay off are already looming over his head.
“I’m going into medical school. Roughly, I’ll be looking at 600 grand in loans,” White said. “It is really high, but you are paying for an education, so it depends. It should pay off in the long run.”
White said he is planning on serving in the military to pay off his graduate school loans. As each year of school warrants two years of service, White says he will have to spend eight years in total to fully pay for his time in medical school.
While there are plenty of solutions to student loan debt, including military service, the anxieties generated in some students by their debt can seem insurmountable. According to an NPR report, current rules allow graduate students to borrow into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Lee’s financial aid advisors said they urge Lee students to keep their available options in mind.
“Lee University consistently ranks, as recently as last week by USNews, among the region’s best values,” Dill said, “which accounts for cost and the amount of aid our students receive.”