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David Creighton poses for a portrait on Friday, February 13, 2015. 

A 2014 OU grad is working freelance jobs to pay off his $25,000 worth of student debt

In 2013, the average debt for an OU grad was more than $26,000.

David Creighton calls himself “lucky.” Others might say he’s no better off than the average college graduate.

When he graduated from Ohio University last year with a degree in commercial photography he had less debt than his average peer, according to data from the Institute for College Access and Success.

The average 2013 OU student graduated with about $27,000 in debt, according to data from a survey submitted by universities to the institute.

However, he doesn’t consider $25,000 in student loans to be pocket change.

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“I didn’t think about (the loans) while I was here, to be honest,” he said. “I really didn’t focus on what the number was until after, when that six month grace period goes by … and I was like ‘oh god, that’s the number.’”

Creighton, a Phoenix, Arizona, native, was able to receive some financial support from his parents, but they could not cover the entire cost, which he estimates to be about $56,000 including living expenses and the cost of tuition for his four-year education, so they took out loans.

He also received some scholarships — what he calls “tuition discounts” — which made his out-of-state tuition cost closer to what an Ohio resident would pay.

For three years he worked an hourly-paid PACE position in the Digital Archives of Alden Library, which was “enough to get me by,” he said.

“It’s not like decades ago when you could work in the summers and pay for school,” he said. “It just doesn’t work like that.”

Creighton is now a photographer freelancing in Columbus, which is helping him “squeak by.” His main costs are living expenses and student debt payments.

With $300 monthly payments, the loans will be paid off in a decade, Creighton said.

For now his parents are continuing to help with those monthly payments, but he is already scoping out jobs that can help him cover the costs when they stop.

“I’ve only got so much in my savings, so I can’t slack off,” he said.

Creighton knew he wanted to study photography and was drawn to OU because of its strong program.

His parents have been supportive of Creighton pursuing photography from the start, though they are a bit “frustrated” with his “not quite fulfilling employment.”

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“I could easily have been an engineer or something … but photography kind of possess me; I kind of have to do it,” he said. “If I had done something else, business or engineering or science-type of thing, it might have been a little easier, a little steadier job, but, for now at least, I am telling myself that I would rather struggle a little bit and do something I love than do something that’s kind of like ‘eh’ and be fine.

“It’s not just money, it’s personal satisfaction.”


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