Walking away with a college degree and no education debt

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – More than 200-thousand Massachusetts residents have no job, according to the latest state unemployment data.

However, more than one-thousand Springfield Technical Community College students walked out of the MassMutual Center Thursday night, with an associate’s degree, and many of them, with no education debt.

Eddie Gonzalez is the first in his family to achieve higher education. He said, “My grandmother, my mother, they were the main reasons why I definitely accopmlished the big goal.”

Thursday night, he received his associate degree in criminal justice from Springfield Technical Community College.

Gonzalez said, “It was difficult for me to find out about colleges being the first college graduate in my family, but I found out that STCC had the easiest path for me to go there, and it was definitely affordable being a low-income household.”

An “affordable” college degree. Gonzalez and his classmates told 22News pursuing a 2-year degree was the most economic option… before going for a 4-year degree or entering the job market or gaining a higher position at their current job.

About 1,100 students graduated Thursday night, about half of them were 26 years old or older. Many had full time jobs while taking classes at STCC.

Jose Puello graduated with a business degree. He told 22News, “Hard work. Full time student. Full time job. It’s hard work but it pays off. I work at a dealership in sales. They just gave me a bigger promotion now that I got my degree. So it helps. It really helps.”

The Pew Research Center found that college degree holders make about $17,000 more than those with just high school diplomas.

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