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Tyler McDaniel '12 researching "Degrees Not Debt" at the NEA this summer
Posted 07/10/2014 02:17PM

Take this survey to inform Tyler's research on "Degrees Not Debt" at the NEA this summer.

Tyler McDaniel ‘12 is a student at the University of Utah. Through a program at the University, he was matched with an internship in DC to study student loan debt at a time when the conversation about the subject is at the top of news headlines. He's interning at the National Education Association (NEA) and the University of Utah Institute of Politics is providing him with a stipend for housing and food.

At the University, Tyler is majoring in math & sociology. The combination of math & sociology steered him to work in statistics and research and now he's finding ways to apply that to politics & policy.

At CDS, he says, he learned that so much about what you do is dependent on building relationships. His face time with teachers and relationships with his peers helped him navigate how to figure out his interests. Also, in his freshman year at University of Utah, when he was studying math, physics, and statistics he said, "We were still doing things I had learned in high school. Quantitatively, CDS gave me a great foundation to build off of in college."

At the NEA, the “Degrees not Debt” intiative's goal is to make college more financially feasible for students, especially students pursuing public service like education. The goals are to both increase student access to loan forgiveness and increase awareness of programs that already exist.

This survey is part of Tyler's work this summer to gather more information about how much students are taking in loans, attitudes toward loans and debt and when they’re taking out loans.

The story is personal for Tyler who was offered 1st year scholarships to go to college, but not much afterwards. This is one way colleges and universities attract students but don't continue to help fund their education after their first year. At that point, students must consider whether they'll continue as students and how they'll pay for the rest of their time in school.

People from bottom income quartile have less of a chance of graduating college now than before Pell grants came about. There are many reasons for this sobering statistic, one is that lower socio-economic status hesitant to take out loans and may have a cultural aversion to borrowing. This is something the survey may help sort out.

Tyler has been at the NEA for about a month. He says it's exciting work, “I’ve never been to DC for more than a couple days. I was at the Senate the other day, I've been at the Chamber of Commerce for meetings. Before this - thought I wanted to do social research and use math for statistics, but now more interested in polling, campaign data, and research. These are exciting fields to get exposed to.”

Anyone can take the survey - it's for students, parents and anyone who's had any relationship with higher education. Tyler needs survey responses by Friday, June 20th. Tyler will be writing a report with the findings from the survey and he will present at theNational Alliance for Black School Educators (NABSE) at their annual conference this November. He will also present his findings at the end of the summer for NEA members.

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