LEE — Each year, student loan debt continues to rise.
Now reaching the highest it has ever been, the U.S. has more than 44 million borrowers that owe over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve. An annual report by online student loan marketplace, Student Loan Hero, shows that the average monthly payment among those not in deferment is $393. And for those trying to enter the workforce, while juggling that debt, it has become increasingly normal for the path to a career not to be linear.
This Friday, however, one Lee couple will set sail on what they hope will be a path to financial security as well as a course toward their college-educated careers.
Ally Voner and Chris Boudrow first met while working in at a seafood restaurant in Gloucester.
“I was bartending and he was a server. He kept putting in his tickets wrong and I yelled at him,” Voner recalled with a hearty chuckle.
In time, the two became friends, and later, a couple.
While in school, Voner and Boudrow both worked in various capacities within the restaurant industry. And after graduation, they continued in the field as their income surpassed what they would make as an entry-level employee in their chosen fields.
Voner holds a fine arts bachelor’s degree from Montserrat College of Art in Beverly and an associates degree from Middlesex Community College. Boudrow holds a degree from Bridgewater State University.
Voner is paying $140 a month for her student loans and Boudrow is paying $700 a month for his. Voner, who also suffers from epileptic seizures, also has incurred significant medical debt for numerous trips to the emergency room.
According to the College Board, a New York-based nonprofit organization that aims to expand access to higher education, the average cumulative student debt balance in 2017 was $26,00 for graduates of public four-year schools and $32,600 for graduates of private nonprofit four-year schools.
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