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September 04, 1986 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-09-04

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 4, 1986- Page 5A,


up, financial


down; students are in debt

Daily Photo by CHRIS TWIGG
University alumnus Jack Atkinson relaxes as he browses through books at the Barnes and Nobles bookstore in
the Michigan Union.

Imagine you are working late on a
botany lab in the Natural Science
building's humid greenhouse. In the
middle of the lab, you realize you have
just used the final sheet of paper in
your notebook, and your only pen has
been leaking ink onto your favorite
Michigan sweatshirt. You try rubbing
the ink out but this only spreads the
stain. Frustrated, you throw your
botany textbook across the room, hit-
ting a giant Venus flytrap which
quickly devours your book. The lab is
due tomorrow morning - what do you
You can either explain this unlikely
scenario to your RA or you can run to
the nearest student bookstore to
replace your notebook, pen, sweat-
shirt and digested textbook. But
Ulrich's, University Cellar, and Bar-
nes and Noble (the Michigan Union
Bookstore) are equally close. Where
do you go? Would it make any dif-
ference where you went? The an-
swer.. . it depends.
Most students interviewed picked
the University Cellar as the overall
best bookstore, though ratings were
largely influenced by geography. Said
one student, "I just go to Ulrich's, it's
closest to where I live."
Picking books
Many students said University
Cellar offered the cheapest prices on
books and other goods, though they
admitted the difference was minimal.
LSA junior Joon Chung said "U Cellar
is cheaper by a little margin, which I
consider too little to be significant."
Student opinion varies on the issue
of course book selection. Some
students preferred choosing their own
books, which they can do at Barnes &
Nobles or University Cellar. Others
would rather have their books picked
for them, as is done at Ulrich's.

offer many options
Dan Durda, an LSA senior, said he geable, but that there were not
liked Ulrich's system of getting tex- enough employees.
tbooks for customers. "At the begin- "There's one 'U' Cellar employee in
ning of the year, when it's crowded particular who is very helpful," one
and there are a lot of hassles, you can law student said. "He knows where
just throw your list and they'll find and what I have to look for. At
the books for you," Durda said. Ulrich's I don't like having to go to the
University Cellar's system has its front and then go back because they
advocates. don't know what they're talking
"You can pick your own books, new about. And Barnes and Nobles is a
or used, and I like that. You can find a joke. I was treated rudely there."
book that someone hasn't written all Bill McRoy, an engineering
over in," said engineering sophomore sophomore, said, "There are too few
Roy Silver. people to help in general, and this is
According to University Cellar especially pronounced at the U Cellar
manager Jane Self, the store's recent during the beginning of the term."
market survey showed that "among University Cellar was formed 15
upperclassmen, they (students) liked years ago by a group of students who
to choose their own books, but in- wanted a University-run bookstore.
coming freshmen, perhaps a little in- Typically for that era, the students
timidated, wanted someone to hand protested and sat-in at the Student
them their books." Activities Building until the Board of
Barnes and Noble offers students, Regents finally agreed to form U
"the best of both worlds," said Cellar. Today, U Cellar remains a
general manager Jerry Maloney. non-profit bookstore and does not
"We'll do it either way: you can give receive subsidies from the Univer-
us your schedule and we'll get your sity. It is governed by a group of
books, or you can do it yourself if you students, faculty, and administrators.
have the time." Barnes and Noble is the newcomer
After course books, the next biggest to Ann Arbor. It first opened in
selling items at bookstores are either January 1985, while Ulrichs has
school supplies or 'soft goods,' usually been selling books for 52 years.
University paraphenalia such as Ulrich's has two annexes, Ulrich's
sweatshirts, hats, and mugs. Again, Electronics and the old location of
prices and quantity do not differ Tice's clothing store, both on South
significantly among the other three University.
stores, but Barnes and Nobles has a
large selection, according to
Maloney. Barnes and Nobles is the
only store to offer refrigerated drinks
and food as well as a sizeable number
of books other than textbooks. Most
students, however, said they usually
go to Border's book store for paper-
A few students believed the staff at
University Cellar was more knowled-

Last year, college students nationwide borrowed $10
billion to attend school. This debt, which has grown by 300
percent since 1979, is causing concern over what one ad-
ministrator called "mortgaged futures."
At the University, undergraduates borrow an average
of $4,000 to $6,000, and graduate students $4,000 to $10,000 a
year, estimates Harvey Grotrian, director of the financial
aid office.
Educators attribute the excessive student loans to in-
creases in tuition and college costs, and a decrease in
financial aid under the Reagan administration.
Lack of funding blamed
Although state and federal financial aid programs have
remained stable over the past six years, funding has not
kept up with inflation rates. Because of rising costs,
Grotrian said federal aid in 1985-86 was 25 percent less
than in 1980-81. This makes it difficult for today's students
who must get by with financial aid that was sufficient in
The decreasing availability of student aid, along with
rising tuition levels, force students to find other ways to
pay for college.
"It is a growing concern. More students are borrowing,
and borrowing to the maximum. Students are caught bet-
ween a double-edged blade of spiralling tuition costs and
declining financial aid, and that has moved them into debt
faster than anything," he added.
Paying back debts
Student debt worries officials for other reasons. The
default rate-students not repaying their loans-is an
"alarming" problem for the government, said Secretary
of Education William Bennett.
Nationally, the default rate is just under ten percent,
according to Bob Jamroz, an education department of-
ficial. The default rate may rise even further because of
the increased loans taken out. The University's default
rate, however, is lower at around seven percent.
The University's senior financial aid officer, Tim
Christiansen, however, is not alarmed.
"People need to change their conception of what loans
are, and accept the fact that many of the people who need
loans have problems repaying them. Legislators and the
public have to accept this and not get so 'wiggled out' with
a ten percent default rate. That 90 percent being paid back
is great," Christiansen said.
Andy Geer, a business school junior, hasn't thought
much about paying back the $6,000 to $7,000 he will owe by
graduation. But he says he will not skip out of repaying the
"I know I wouldn't want to default. They've helped me
get through school-and you really can't beat the interest
rates. I definitely feel obligated to pay them back," Geer
"If it wasn't for student loans, I wouldn't be here," said
Michael Cucci, a dental student.
William Ghans, a third year medical student, also says

he will repay his loans, although "they can't take blood
from a stone."
Ghans said he will owe up to $50,000 when he graduates
from medical school next year, with the first payment'
due two years into hospital residency. Residents earl
about $20,000 per year.
"It's not good, but I realized the situation before I came,
to medical school. I am lucky to have received the loans,"
Chans said.
But some officials, nationally and at the University, are.
worried that sudents do not understand the terms of their
loans. They recommend "indebtedness counseling" for
prospective borrowers. -
Effect on careers
Some officials also worry that undergraduates may turn
away from a liberal arts education for more lucrative
majors, such as in the sciences.
They also fear that fewer graduates will enter service
professions, but will instead embark for higher paying
fields. Students also hesitate entering graduate or
professional schools because they fear more debt.
A recent study does indicate that students may be
choosing their majors based on economic realities, rather
than their ideal career choices.
The Carniegie Foundation for the Advancement of
Teaching reported that students with sizable debts "tend
to concentrate in fields where they can expect high star-
ting salaries."
Officials also worry that graduates with large debts will
not actively support the economy.
"Many young adults are graduating with thousands of
dollars in loans and can't pay them back. You have to
work many years to pay off the loans before you can do
other things with the money, like buy houses, cars, and
luxuries," Christiansen said.
Free grants?
Another dispute has centered around whether students
should receive free grants for college, with no payback in-
Jamroz said he favored grants over loans, especally for
low-income families-families of four who make under
$18,000 per year.
But Ghans said it's more difficult for a middle-income
student to get through college than a student from a poor
"The people being hurt are those whose parents are
'rich' on paper, but have other expenses to pay, like other
students in school. It's almost better if you're destitute
than middle class," Ghans said.
Since 1980, the federal government has increased
restrictions on student loans. Students now must be from
families making less than $30,000 to automatically qualify
for a loan.
"Since 1980, we have had to check the family's income,
family size, and the number of children in college. Thenwe
look at national education association tables and calculate
whether the student can get a loan," Grotrian said.

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