TCU senior Bryan Tony moderates student debt discussion, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, in Fort Worth, Texas.
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Panelists encouraged students to only take out as many loans as they need to pay tuition and other essential costs at Wednesday’s student debt discussion.

Students take on unnecessary debt, said keynote speaker José Eduardo Sánchez, the Southern regional organizing director for Young Invincibles, a political advocacy group for young adults.

Sánchez was joined by Timeka Gordon, the TCU Community Scholars program director; Chelsea Alexander, a TCU alumna and a senior financial advisor with Merrill Lynch; and Mike Scott, the TCU director of scholarship and finance.

Sánchez said college tuition and fees have increased over 1,000 percent since 1978, making student debt a pressing issue for the country.

“The problem is worsened because students do not have the knowledge to refuse tuition debt they do not need,” Sánchez said.

If undergraduates overspend now, their debt will skyrocket during graduate school, where loans are the majority of financial aid, Scott said. By returning just $20 a month, students can get into the habit of repaying loans, which lessens the possibility defaulting.

Sánchez said Young Invincibles wants to bring more students into related policy discussions.

“The student voice is essential in achieving any real long-lasting change,” Sánchez said.

Senior economics and political science double major Bryan Tony planned the event with the John V. Roach Honors College, the Government Affairs and Advocacy Program, and Student Development Services’ “One Million Reasons” financial literacy campaign.

Tony said he was pleased with the discussion.

“I was really surprised by the number of faculty and staff that came out to the event, and then to see a large population of community scholars, honors students, people who are engaged with the financial literacy program—it was really neat to bring all those groups together,” Tony said.

Tony said he thinks this is the start of the student debt discussion on TCU’s campus.

Rachel Monsees, a junior mathematics and economics double major, responds to the discussion.