What’s The Real Cost? An Analysis of Student Loan Debt


photo taken by Queen Wilkes 

When going to college many students tend to worry about academic courses, living arrangements, and cool activities that can be found in their area. However, according to recent data, students should be worrying about student loan debt as they are likely to have a whole lot of it after graduation that can very well affect the rest of their lives.

They are several different ways to fund a college education from scholarships to taking up a full-time job but taking on some form of student loan is one of the more common ways with 71 percent of students doing so.

There are several different loans ranging from the Perkins loan to private loans and each can be beneficial or detrimental depending on the student. All student loans can be split into federal government funded loans and private loans. Federal loans are typically seen as more beneficial to students due to more options for reduced payment, deferment, and possible forgiveness programs. The most common federal loans are:

Stafford Loans ($669.7 billion; 32.1 million borrowers)

These loans are the most popular, offered on both subsidized and unsubsidized levels. They also can be used. whether or not a student shows financial need.

Perkins Loans ($8.1 billion; 2.8 million borrowers)

Perkins Loans are for students with extraordinary financial need, so not many students will be eligible. The interest on these loans is paid by the government while a student is still enrolled in school.

PLUS Loans ($117.9 billion; 4.3 million borrowers)

PLUS loans can be taken out by students or parents in order to fund whatever costs that are not met by other financial aid. PLUS Loans tend to have higher interest rates and can add on origination fees of up to 4 percent. They also require good credit.

Private loans can be taken out by local and national banks but some of the most common lenders are Sallie Mae, Wells Fargo and more.

Student loans are not inherently bad and do not always lead to extreme debt, however, they often do. Recent reports have shown that over 43.3 million Americans have student loan debt all equating to approximately $1.3 trillion dollars. With these numbers being so high, student loan debt is second highest only to mortgages in consumer type debts.

“It really makes you start to think that school isn’t worth it”, says Sarah. Sarah Carey, 18, is a second-year college student at the University of Denver and though she reports that her academic experiences have been pleasant, she hates that she knows that she will graduate in debt.


Sarah Carey, student, University of Denver

“Having a college education is essential to having a good, well off job in the future”, says Carey,”but college is priced as such a luxury that you have to take out loans to even scrape by.”

Only .3 percent of students are able to meet 100 percent of college cost and this is often only available at the most elite schools such as Harvard University where the school can offer full rides based on need. For students who do not attend those elite universities, they are more likely to find a financial aid package that will offer them $29,916 when tuition and board total out to $40,580 and that is if they are lucky. Even with this scenario, U.S News Reports that this wouldn’t be enough for a student to leave college with no debt as this is only 73 percent of need met and approximately 86 percent of need would have to be met by the educational institution with the remaining 14 percent being made up by federal grants in order for students to graduate essentially with a full ride- but this full ride would still include loans.

This 86 percent scenario is not that of most students, most educational institutions are not even offering 73 percent of financial aid. Most financial institutions are offering closer to 60 percent. That means that most students will have to take the federal loans and also seek out private loan assistance. Due to this common scenario, the average Class of 2016 student will graduate with $37,172 in debt, and this number is steadily rising.

“It definitely sucks that I already know that I am going to graduate with about $40,000 I owe in loans” ,Carey states,” it’s really disheartening to know that I will start off in the workforce with debt to worry about,”

Carey along with 90 percent of college students feel unprepared to tackle student loan debt according to Money Matters on Campus, a survey of 90,000 college students across the United States.

Nashwa Bolling, 33, is the Associate Director of Budget, Research, and Analysis at the University of Denver says that she understands student concern about loan debt and that it is a rising concern of hers.


Nashwa Bolling, financial aid staff, University of Denver

“I am not in any way shocked by the fact that students are stressed about financial aid and loans, all of it is really daunting and can change their life.”

Bolling says that the students that she has worked with are often unaware of the severity of taking out loans and that contributes to the problem.

“So many students just take out student loans and do not realize the importance of that action until its kind of too late. They find themselves with private loans that horrible interest and less than favorable payment options.” Boiling advocates that students take time out to fully understand financial aid. “Talk to your financial aid office, try to get more grants and scholarships. If you have to go to loans, really look into them because they can easily affect the rest of your life.”

Student loans do often have effects on people past the point of graduation actually, that is when most of them become most apparent in your everyday life. Though federal loans are often put on a 10-year track for repayment the average student does not pay off those loans for approximately 21 years. A survey by Citizens Financial Group, a private loan lender, said that of 518 former students surveyed 23 percent were unable to make loan payments, 43 percent have entered deferment and 8 percent have refinanced.

Based on the status of your student loan payments, you could be turned down from buying a home or car due to bad credit. Student loan default stays on your credit report for 7 years and can lead to garnished wages and even garnished social security.

Even if a graduate does not go into default, According to the Student Debt Crisis, the average student debt will still end up costing students an additional 5 years on buying a home, a loss of $500,000 in retirement savings and, a luxury car, a dozen vacations or half a child’s college savings over the course of their lifetime.

“I spent years in college, I am still paying back debt”, says Mako Miller, “that’s why I spend my time trying to prevent that same debt from accruing with others.”


Mako Miller, coach, Kauffman Scholars 

Mako Miller, 34, is a post-secondary coach for Kauffman Scholars, a mentor and last dollar scholarship program in the Greater Kansas City area. As part of her mentoring high school students about, she helps to facilitate an FAFSA Frenzy event every year to help students better understand and easily apply through the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Miller goes on to state,“We can’t just cut out tuition  cost right now and unfortunately, scholarships are not always plentiful. However, too many people do not understand student loans or financial aid in general. When we start educating people about that then we will see a decline in student loan debt.”

2016 Report on the Real Cost of Student Loans

A Look at the Shocking Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2016



Social media: An activist’s help or hindrance?


Members of the community filled the Driscoll Gallery during Friday’s solidarity event at the University of Denver (photo by Marnier LeBlanc)

On February 26, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin sparked the creation of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

According to a timeline compiled by CNN, Martin was shot by George Zimmerman after Zimmerman reported “a suspicious person” to a 911 operator. Zimmerman stated the fatal shooting occurred in self-defense, and shared medical records from the Altamonte Family Practice showed Zimmerman had suffered an “open wound of scalp, without mention of complication; nasal bones, closed fracture; assault by other specified means.” However, the “other specified means” are not disclosed. Continue reading

An Emerging Renaissance in Kansas City

Kansas City or KC as most call it is in a known sort of modern renaissance to many who live in the city. A renaissance in its most basic terms is considered a period of transition from what was known as the Middle Ages and modernity. The people of KC are more united than ever to build a city beyond tradition and into the new.


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Photo by: Kendra Smith


According to Forbes, Kansas City has a population just over two million and unassuming statistics on the economy. Only around thirty-four percent of people have a college degree and a medium income of around fifty-seven thousand. The average housing market sits just about a hundred and forty-eight thousand. As a US city, KC sits a good amount below the national average for almost every criterion, including job growth.

Interestingly enough, despite that stats and the odds, the people of Kansas City are dreaming big and coming together to not only make KC a better place but the nation as well. A reflection of this has been seen in sports with their nationally recognized soccer team, Sporting KC, and the Royals. The amount of camaraderie and support has been unprecedented in the past three years, while most games have continued to sell out. What is most striking in Kansas City though is it’s small business movement.

KC would not be in the midst of a renaissance without the aspirations of the people and the support of the city. Joni Johnson has lived in Kansas City since 2001 and now lives in KC proper with her husband and three children. She is the sales director and stylist at Standard Style and has worked with the Baldwin couple of Baldwin denim since their outset. Baldwin denim is a major player in the vibrancy and making “KC” a personal brand for the individual and the whole of the city.


Photo by: Kyndall Durkee

In three words Johnson defines Kansas City as home, emerging, and hospitable. A word that she couldn’t get away from while talking about her city was emerging. According to Johnson,

“KC is great because there’s a real emergence of art creative’s, a cool renaissance is happening. Kansas City has never been as romantic. People are great, emerging industries and businesses and it’s centrally located. If you have a phone and an airplane you can be as relevant as you want. “

No joke. Kansas City has it’s own chamber of commerce named the Big Five that is specifically devoted to developing and investing in small business to “(elevate) the Kansas City region onto the world stage and makes the area one of America’s best places to work, live, start a business, and grow a business”. The overall theme amongst Kansas Citians is that KC is the place to be and prosper.

This is how Courtney and Dylan Barr feel. A recently married couple that both grew up in KC. Courtney is currently the implementation manager at Saepio Technologies and Dylan is an engineer at A. Zahner Company. They both feel like it is easy to be a “big fish in a small pond”. Courtney said;

“In KC you can be a really big fish in a small town, this city allows people to exceed when in other cities it would be much difficult.”

Dylan responded;

“(The) coffee industry in this city is so amazing. There is a reasonable amount of social mobility, essentially the upper middle class is as high as it gets in KC and the difference is so small that there is no differentiation in the social culture. People here don’t judge you on such arbitrary things as much as in other cities”.


court and dyl.jpg

Photo by Dylan Bar

The overall camaraderie goes across all the social cultures in KC. Most areas of the city proper are shared and afforded by different cultures and social incomes. Like mentioned before and also shared by Dylan Barr;

“The three professional teams for a city of this size is a testament to how much people love spots here and how much they are willing to spend their money and their time on sports and sports-related things, down to kids, it’s pretty unique to a city of our size”.

This floods into the booming small business restaurant and coffee industry. With New York Times worthy mentions like Port Fonda, Westport Café, and the Rieger, KC not only is equipped with great food and craft made liquors (at the Rieger) but plenty of craft coffee shops and breweries like Boulevard brewery and the Roasterie coffee.

One craft beer and coffee purveyor in town is Josiah ‘Bo’ Nelson, the owner of Thou Mayest Coffee near downtown KC. He was born and raised in Kansas City and has lived all over the area in different counties. He said he “Almost moved away multiple times but realized the grass is green only where you decide to fertilize it”.

This is another common theme amongst the people of KC. Nelson opened Thou Mayest Coffee to bring yet another craft coffee to the city, but to also diversify the culture by making his café similar to one that you would find in Belgium, Germany, or England. The café definitely represents the American theme of the West but gravitates to the duality of a coffee and bar café. The shop not only brews craft coffee but also serves state local brews and American made cocktails. On KC and the small business movement, Nelson said,

“Ultimately, the people make the city great… and there is a strong sense of that wild-west rugged individual here. KC used to be the last stop before heading into the wilderness, the great unknown. KC was here to equip those people heading into that wilderness – I think KC still embodies that supportive spirit of equipping startups and sending them off into the ‘great unknown’. It’s scary starting a business and (with) so many unknowns”.



Thou Mayest, Photo by Kendra Smith


Overall the renaissance movement seems to be a tangible reality to almost every spectrum of KC culture. The Barr family, Joni Johnson, and Josiah Nelson all agreed separately that the one negative theme and area of needed change in KC were with issues of race. Various areas of Kansas City have nationally recognized problems of drug use and crime among the African American populations in Jackson County. Josiah Nelson relates these issues back prior to the civil rights movement saying,

“JC Nichols really had a dramatic impact on this city – maybe not for the better. Redlining and what I call “Segregation by policy”. It is still practiced today and incredibly antiquated”.

JC Nichols had a major impact in zoning the original foundation of Kansas City’s bustling development in the 1920’s and 30’s. The effects of this type of segregation are still seen in “gigantic ‘food deserts’ east of Troost”, according to Nelson and the “unaccredited schools in Jackson Country, Kansas City Proper school district”, said Dylan Barr.

This KC renaissance is encouraging growth, energy, resilience, inclusiveness, and a place to call home, but it is also bringing up major issues while seeking to build bridges among all races, cultures, and classes. A renaissance theme that might just be beginning in the nation as a whole, from the antiquity that separated us to a modernity of revelation that brings people, races, and cultures together.

Are Faculty Members Educated Adequately To Meet The Needs Of Students With Learning Disabilities?


Mountain View Room located on the DSP and LEP floor in Ruffatto Hall (photo taken by Elaina Fenstermacher)

The University of Denver is home to 5000+ students coming from across the country and the world to learn. DU stands on the idea of diversity and creating an inclusive campus environment for all students. DU funds many programs on campus including the Center for Multicultural Excellence, Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, DU Athletics program and many more. What most students don’t realize is the support or to some students lack of support that goes to students with learning disabilities. At the University of Denver over 200 students are enrolled in programs that help students with learning disabilities.

Continue reading

Women’s reproductive health: A right or a circumstantial privilege?

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Photo taken by Hannah Bibbo at a Planned Parenthood event

The debate over women’s reproductive rights is nothing new. After decades of fighting for the use of contraceptives by women in the United States, the birth control pill was first introduced in 1960. Even though it allowed women to choose to deter their pregnancy, some people argued that it was used for immoral sexual activity.

There was a lot of backlash against the introduction of contraceptives from anti-women’s reproductive rights groups such as the Roman Catholic Church, and many anti-reproductive rights groups still exist today. When contraceptives were first introduced, many states prohibited the sale of them to both married and unmarried couples. It was not until Griswold V. Connecticut in 1965 that married women could obtain contraception, and Eisenstadt V. Baird in 1972 that unmarried minors could also obtain contraception.

Even though women have more access now to reproductive health than in previous decades, do all women have equal access? And furthermore, why is it necessary that reproductive healthcare is obtainable? Continue reading

Rio faces heap of issues before Olmypics


Rio de Janeiro is a city in Brazil with over 6 million people. Tourists often travel to Rio for its famous beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema and for monuments like the 38m Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks the city. Two years ago, the city hosted the 2014 World Cup. Now, in 2016, they are hosting the 2016 summer Olympic Games.

The Olympics come at a time of unrest in Rio. In case where man is pinned against environment and government, the safety conditions of the city raise a few questions.

According to the Department of State, the security of the city is something to be concerned about. They state that the city continues to experience “high incidences of crime, including armed robberies,” and that “no area in Rio is immune.” In fact, there are even areas of Rio that U.S. government officials are prohibited to go to because of how dangerous they are.

The Department of State warns to be vigilant and cautious when touring around Rio, as tourists are the most susceptible to street threats. They advise to choose where to stay carefully, to “consider location, security, and the availability of a safe to store valuables.”

Captain Paul Haslam, for the last few years, has been working aboard the USNS Comfort, a military ship that provides humanitarian relief to countries in Central America. They would land in ports and treat the people of the country, with anything ranging from basic dental needs to major operations.

Haslam also has some experience in South America. After growing up in Venezuela as a missionary kid, he visited Rio in 1988 with the military.

“When I was there, at the time, the sewer ran basically in to where the beach was it. We could go to the beach, but we weren’t allowed to get in the water,” Haslam says.

“I was walking downtown at about 11:00 p.m. when a group of about ten 14 year olds attacked us.” Haslam and his military comrades fought back and the band of boys left without getting any money, but it remains the only time someone attempted to mug Haslam.

The police in Rio are even protesting the conditions. They can be found in airports with signs saying “Welcome to Hell,” according to the LA Times. The financial crisis in Rio has led to the government being unable to pay law enforcement for several months. On top of that, law enforcement has a difficult time providing security for residents. With the Olympics on the horizon, the situation is even more emergent that usual, since they will have more people to look after.

“Economically, I think that over the last ten years they are better off,” Haslam continues. “I don’t think it is any safer now, but I do think the country has prospered since then. I don’t think they put a lot of money in to their infrastructure though.”

In fact, even though the city has had seven years to prepare for the Olympics, the buildings are still not finished. By comparison, London had about ninety percent of the arenas built with a year left to the 2012 Olympics.

The incomplete arenas and the unsafe streets are just the beginning of the problem Olympians and tourists are going to face. The Zika virus, caused by mosquito bites, is another issue.

“The major focus regarding Zika virus involves pregnant women,” Karen Teber says. Teber is an senior director of strategic communications at Georgetown Medical Center. She is the spokesperson for a team of scientists that are studying the Zika virus.

Teber pointed out that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that a pregnant mother can pass along the virus to her fetus, which can then lead to serious birth defects.

The World Health Organization states that Zika can be sexually transmitted from infected

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Mosquito lurking on the wall (photo by Madison Heller)


men to the woman, and can cause microcephaly. Microcephaly is when babies are born with abnormally small heads, and this can lead to other brain disorders or malformations.


“Parents caring for a child with a birth defect is a lifelong commitment. It is a time consuming condition,” Says Julie Johnson. Johnson has worked in a children’s hospital emergency room for about 15 years now, and has seen a large variety of cases in her years.

“We get children who have chronic conditions and comfort the parents with babies with these high needs,” Johnson continues. “The risk [of Rio] is that a lot of Olympic athletes are childbearing ages.”

For preventative measures, the WHO recommends:

–          Wearing light colored clothing that covers most of the body

–          Using insect repellent

–          Avoiding impoverished neighborhoods or densely populated areas that have poor sanitation

–          Practicing safe sex/abstinence for eight weeks after infection to avoid transmitting; or, if already pregnant, avoid sex/practice safe sex throughout pregnancy

“When it comes to the Olympics, Zika isn’t the only health matter for travelers,” Teber continues. One way to get on top of it, though, is to make sure you are caught up on all vaccinations before traveling to Rio. Even though “there is no vaccine for Zika virus,” staying up to date with medication can prevent other infections.

Vaccinations are not everything, though. Not only is Zika unresponsive to vaccination, but the super bacteria found in Rio’s water is also immune.

The bacteria found in water is called Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE for short. According to Forbes, this bacteria is resistant to most antibiotics and causes terrible/potentially life-threatening infections to those who encounter it.

In an interview with Forbes, director of the CDC Tom Frieden referred to CRE as “a nightmare” and “a triple threat” bacteria. Here is what he meant by that:

–          They are resistant to antibiotics, even our last resort antibiotics

–          Their mortality rates are through the roof, as they kill half of the people they infect

–          They can spread their resistance to other bacteria, infecting the genes that allow our last resort antibiotics to destroy bacteria like E. coli

While none of the Olympic beaches are infested with this super bacteria CRE, CNN reported that the bay in which the Olympic sailors will compete borders beaches flagged with the bacteria.

CNN also reported that researchers in Rio stated that the bacteria have accumulated due to sewage run off from nearby buildings.

Haslam agreed, stating, “The sewage, the streets, the water supply. They have not done any renovations.”

Johnson further states that she understands that Olympic athletes would want to seize the opportunity to go while they can. Like Haslam, Johnson continues, “Truthfully, I would be more nervous to go because of the violence I have heard about there in the last ten or fifteen years.”

Ⓒopyright in Online Media & Advertising

In the world we live in today humans with access to the internet have the ability to download and in turn use almost any form of media they find on it. Whether that be through music platforms like Sound Cloud and YouTube where a link just needs to be copied into an online down loader and seconds someone has a copy of that song all while not paying a single penny for it. The same can be said for images on sites like Getty and Instagram where a user can take the image for free by using shortcuts that while often thought as harmless can cost companies a mass loss in revenue meanwhile technically breaching the law as this is a form of online theft.

Now where the real issue arises is when companies or individuals attempt to use this stolen content in a way that results in monetary gain for themselves and not the person who’s work originally went in to it. However the creators of the stolen goods are starting to take a stand and with the help of some major companies they hope to soon be winning this uphill battle.

Donnie Miller is a local Coloradan who since the age of 2 has been making music, and while it wasn’t always good he didn’t care, because it was his and was special. In early 2013 Donnie found out about a software called Abelton, a computer program that allows you turn your laptop into a recording studio and produce your own music. From that day forward this young man was no longer Donnie Miller but Decadon as he started his life as a music producer, releasing his own creations to the world and ultimately gaining mass recognition. Recently Decadon was signed to Jägermeister USA who release and manage some of the biggest names in the music industry and now Donnie was joining their ranks. However before he could partner with the group he had to solve some problems with his music being use.

Donnie1“So when I signed with Jäger USA they were super supportive but their one rule was I could no longer give away all my music for free, and that while I made the music it would be owned and controlled by them. I agreed and then I got all these emails from Jäger and was blown away. It turned out over 500 YouTube accounts and a few Sound Cloud users had been using my music without  me knowing it and either were claiming it was their own, or making money off the views they were receiving on the videos it was in. ”

Unlike Donnie, who was just an individual and was publishing his music as fair use, Jager was able to step in a copyright strike or shutdown and person on major media networks using his, or rather their, music illegally. This results in the illegal video being removed from the internet and in turn the owner of the law breaking video losing the revenue and possibly their account. On the flip side now Donnie is free to produce his music and in a world where it is already hard enough to make ends meat, get their credit and return profit he deserves from his content he produces.

Now while Decadon had people stealing his music, it is a whole different ball game if you want to license music legally for videos like advertisements or personal uses. In late 2014 the marketing super power that is The Richards Group put out what is to this day one of the most expensive ads ever to be aired. It was a Fiat commercial for the “invasion” of the Fiat 500’s to the USA and featured not only the driving of several cars into the ocean (which actually happened) but also the use of a Pitbull song, which had to be licensed.

Taylor Smiley and Jeff Armstrong are two members of The Richards Group Partnership Marketing Team that where involved in the creation of this ad and were more than willing to have a call and discuss exactly what went into the creation of this product. While no exact numbers where discussed it was interesting to better understand the process in which a company must go through to license and use an artists piece of work in a video.Taylor1

“Well the first thing that you have to understand in Pitbull wasn’t part of this. I never met him, we didn’t go to Miami, none of that. I honestly doubt he knew his song was in the ad till he saw it on TV. The people who actually make the calls on who gets what and if you can use it is the label management. We shot the commercial several different ways, edited it and went to the label and said we would like your artists song on this.” -Mr. Smiley

Taylor went on to say how there was a pretty good chance the label, RCA Records, would say yes as this was a ad to be played on national television created specifically for the Superbowl. But just in case it was a no they had several other artists in mind that would still work to make the ad fun and exciting to watch. A contract was written up and for several million dollars, yes million, Fiat was able to use Pitbull’s song on their ad.

Jeff 1“It’s not like going in a just asking a buddy for his latest remix and then throwing that in the background. By putting this song on the ad there was the potential for growth of popularity in both the product (Fiat) as well as a rise in demand for the song featured on it. We had to make sure we weren’t paying for someone else to get famous, but at the same we needed that boost to make the ad hit with the target audience.” -Mr. Armstrong


Contracts were drawn and re-drawn over and over for several weeks to ensure there was no short end of the deal for either parties and ultimately Fiat and The Richards Group where able to use a clip of under 30 seconds from a song by Pitbull in the ad. Now copyright is an interesting thing because had this not happened and Fiat used the song illegally they could have easily been sued for tens of millions of dollars as in the past major artists that had songs used in unapproved cases have settled out of court for the full price of the song per each view, and since the Fiat ad was shown to over 40 million viewers the first time it was played this could have cost a hefty fee if handled in correctly.

Ultimately copyright is a good thing, ensuring that musical artists or artists of any kind in turn get the payment and recognition that they deserve for their hard earned work in a world that offers a plethora of tools that can do the exact opposite. Whether it be Decadon receiving the recognition, earnings, and protection he deserved for his hard work or Pitbull and Fiat coming to a mutal arangment to benefit them both it is in the best interest of everyone to obey the law and respect the creator when using someones art or property.