Poll: Texans say student loan debt 'major problem'

WGU Texas Higher Education Poll surveys 800 Texans

Americans owe nearly $1.3 trillion in student loan debt.

A WGU Texas Higher Education Poll released Tuesday found 78 percent of the 800 adult Texas surveyed characterized student loan debt as a "major problem."

Eric Estrada is a first-generation college student who is paying for his criminology degree from Texas A&M University-San Antonio with the help of a student loan.

"I feel college education should be affordable," Estrada said. "Students shouldn't have to rely on student loans in order to go to school."

Recent statistics from the National Student Loan Data System showed more than 41 million Americans are recipients of three types of federal student loans.

Ninety-four percent of the people surveyed for the WGU Texas poll said that having a degree of certificate beyond high school is either very, or somewhat important.

At Cafe College, a center funded by the city of San Antonio and managed by the San Antonio Education Partnership, college access and successor advisor Brent Biglin discusses all financial aid options with students.

"If it's required to get a student loan, that's a decision you have to make individually," Biglin said. "In some cases, it's worth it for students, especially if they're going to a dream school, or a university where they can only study a certain thing at a certain school."

Estrada understands that life after college will require some extra budgeting.

"I am really concerned about it, but I want the education. I want to be able to have a good job," he said.

For someone hoping to work for the Secret Service some day, the benefits outweigh the costs.

KSAT-12 requested enrollment numbers and the number of students currently pursuing their education with loans from University of the Incarnate Word, the University of Texas at San Antonio and Texas A&M University-San Antonio. The following figures were provided by their respective communications departments:

Current U.S. enrollment: 8,907
Stuents utilizing student loans: 4,398

Current enrollment: 28,955
Students utilizing student loans: 13,134

Texas A&M University-San Antonio:
Current enrollment: 5,496
Students utilizing student loans: 1,925 unsubsidized, 1,915 subsidized