ORONO, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Students gathered on the University of Maine campus today to grieve together over an issue they believe has gotten way out of hand: the cost of higher education.
The student group Maine Peace Action committee held a mock funeral to draw attention to student debt. The group says that nationally, student loan debt is more than $1 trillion, making it the highest form of personal debt in the U.S. They believe that number needs to be lowered drastically.
"Tuition is extremely expensive. Debt is extremely high," says Dan White, organizer of the mock funeral. "Fifty percent of us are going to be underemployed, unemployed or working a job that does not require a college degree."
But University officials say UMaine is among the most affordable state schools in New England. They've kept tuition flat for two years, and increased scholarships and grants by $2.5 million. They also teach students to manage debt, and find resources to make college more affordable.
"The University of Maine will continue to provide financial literacy education," said Jimmy Jung, Vice President of Enrollment Management at the University of Maine. "Are the students maximizing on their federal and state aid? Are they applying for it? Are they cautiously monitoring the debt they're taking on?"
The Maine Peace Action committee doesn't think that's enough, and until things change, they will continue to be in mourning.