When Zack Hepner graduated from high school at the age of 17, he didn’t really know what he wanted to do with his life. All he knew was that college was a must.
“I just had to go,” he recalled. “It didn’t really matter for what, or why, or where — it was just a matter of getting a degree.”
Hepner enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. By the time he finished, he owed about $30,000 in student loans.
“It felt like a huge weight had settled in the middle of my chest,” he said.
Today, Hepner is among many college graduates who say their degrees were not worth the debt they took on to get them. According to the Marketplace-Edison Research Poll, more than half of people paying off student loans are having difficulty with the monthly payments. Nearly 40 percent of them say the education wasn’t worth the debt.
Hepner has a job he likes working as a purchasing specialist for a natural foods cooperative in Milwaukee — a job, he said, that doesn’t use his degree.
“I would say for me, personally, it was probably not worth it,” he said.
Click the media player above to hear Hepner’s story.