Part I Writing (30 minutes)
Directions: For this part, you are allowed 30 minutes to write a composition on the topic: Travel-mate Wanted. You should write at least 150 word following the outline given below:
Part II Reading Comprehension (Skimming and Scanning) (15 minutes)
Directions: In this part, you will have 15 minutes to go over the passage quickly and answer the questions on Answer Sheet 1. For questions 1-4, markY (for YES) if the statement agrees with the information given in the passage;N (for NO) if the statement contradicts the information given in the passage;NG (for NOT GIVEN) if the information is not given in the passage.
For questions 5-10, complete the sentences with the information given in the passage.
Is College Really Worth the Money
The Real World
Este Griffith had it all figured out. When she graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in April 2001, she had her sights set on one thing: working for a labor union.
The real world had other ideas. Griffith left school with not only a degree, but a boatload of debt. She owed $15,000 in student loans and had racked up $4,000 in credit card debt for books, groceries and other expenses. No labor union job could pay enough to bail her out.
So Griffith went to work instead for a Washington, D.C. firm that specializes in economic development. Problem solved Nope. At age 24, she takes home about $1,800 a month, $1,200 of which disappears to pay her rent. Add another $180 a month to retire her student loans and $300 a month to whittle down her credit card balance. "You do the math," she says.
Griffith has practically no money to live on. She brown-bags(自带午餐)her lunch and bikes to work. Above all, she fears she'll never own a house or be able to retire. It's not that she regrets getting her degree. "But they don't tell you that the trade-off is the next ten years of your income," she says.
That's precisely the deal being made by more and more college students. They're mortgaging their futures to meet soaring tuition costs and other college expenses. Like Griffith, they're facing a one-two punch at graduation: hefty(深重的)student loans and smothering credit card debt—not to mention a job market that, for now anyway, is dismal.
"We are forcing our children to make a choice between two evils," says Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law professor and expert on bankruptcy. "Skip college and face a life of diminished opportunity. or go to college and face a life shackled(束缚)by debt."
For some time, colleges have insisted their steep tuition hikes are needed to pay for cutting-edge technologies, faculty and administration salaries, and rising health care costs. Now there's a new culprit(犯人): shrinking state support. Caught in a severe budget crunch, many states have sharply scaled back their funding for higher education.
Someone had to make up for those lost dollars. And you can guess who—especially if you live in Massachusetts, which last year hiked its tuition and fees by 24 percent, after funding dropped by 3 percent, or in Missouri, where appropriations(拨款)fell by 10 percent, but tuition rose at double that rate. About one-third of the states, in fact, have increased tuition and fees by more than 10 percent.
One of those states is California, and Janet Burrell's family is feeling the pain. A bookkeeper in Torrance, Burrell has a daughter at the University of California at Davis Meanwhile, her sons attend two-year colleges because Burrell can't afford to have all of them in four-year schools at once.
Meanwhile, even with tuition hikes, California's community colleges are so strapped for cash they dropped thousands of classes last spring. The result: 54,000 fewer students.
Many families thought they had a surefire plan: even if tuition kept skyrocketing, they had invested enough money along the way to meet the costs. Then a funny thing happened on the way to Wall Street. Those investments collapsed with the stock market. Among the losers last year: the wildly popular "529" plans—federal tax-exempt college savings plans offered by individual states, which have attracted billions from families around the country. "We hear from many parents that what they had set aside declined in value so much that they now don't have enough to see their students through," says Penn State financial aid director Anna Griswold, who witnessed a 10 percent increase in loan applications last year. Even with a market that may be slowly recovering, it will take time, perhaps several years, for people to recoup(补偿)their losses.
Nadine Sayegh is among those who didn't have the luxury of waiting for her college nest egg to grow back. Her father had invested money toward her tuition, but a large chunk of it vanished when stocks went south. Nadine was then only partway through college. By graduation, she had taken out at least $10,000 in loans, and her mother had borrowed even more on her behalf. Now 22, Nadine is attending law school, having signed for yet more loans to pay for that. "There wasn't any way to do it differently," she says, "and I'm not happy about it. I've sat down and calculated how long it will take me to pay off everything. I'll be 35 years old." That's if she's very lucky: Nadine based her calculation on landing a job right out of law school that will pay her at least $120,000 a year.
Dependent on Loans and Credit Cards
The American Council on Education has its own calculation that shows how students are more and more dependent on loans. In just five years, from 1995 to 2000, the median loan debt at public institutions rose from $10,342 to $15,375. Most of this comes from federal loans, which Congress made more tempting in 1992 by expanding eligibility (home equity no longer counts against your assets) and raising loan limits (a dependent undergraduate can now borrow up to $23,000 from the federal government).
But students aren't stopping there. The College Board estimates that they also borrowed $4.5 billion from private lenders in the 2000-2001 academic year, up from $1.5 billion just five years earlier.
For lots of students, the worst of it isn't even the weight of those direct student loans. It's what they rack up on all those plastic cards in their wallets. As of two years ago, according to a study by lender Nellie Mae, more than eight out of ten undergrads had their own credit cards, with the typical student carrying four. That's no big surprise, given the in-your-face marketing by credit card companies, which set up tables on campus to entice(诱惑)students to sign up. Some colleges ban or restrict this hawking, but others give it a boost. You know those credit cards emblazoned with a school's picture or its logo For sanctioning such a card—a must-have for some students—a college department or association gets payments from the issuer. Meanwhile, from freshman year to graduation, according to the Nellie Mae study, students triple the number of credit cards they own and double their debt on them. As of 2001, they were in the hole an average $2,327.
A Wise Choice
One day, Moyer sat down with his mother, Janne O'Donnell, to talk about his goal of going to law school. Don't count on it, O'Donnell told him. She couldn't afford the cost and Moyer doubted he could get a loan, given how much he owed already. "He said he felt like a failure," O'Donnell recalls. "He didn't know how he had gotten into such a mess."
A week later, the 22-year-old hanged himself in his bedroom, where his mother found him. O'Donnell is convinced the money pressures caused his suicide. "Sean tried to pay his debts off," she says. "And he couldn't take it."
To be sure, suicides are exceedingly rare. But despair is common, and it sometimes leads students to rethink whether college was worth it. In fact, there are quite a few jobs that don't require a college degree, yet pay fairly well. On average, though, college graduates can expect to earn 80 percent more than those with only a high school diploma. Also, all but two of the 50 highest paying jobs (the exceptions being air traffic controllers and nuclear power reactor operators) require a four-year college degree. So foregoing a college education is often not a wise choice.
Merit Mikhail, who graduated last June from the University of California, Riverside, is glad she borrowed to get through school. But she left Riverside owing $20,000 in student loans and another $7,000 in credit card debt. Now in law school, Merit hopes to become a public-interest attorney, yet she may have to postpone that goal, which bothers her. To handle her debt, she'll probably need to start with a more lucrative(有利的)legal job.
Like so many other students. Mikhail took out her loans on a kind of blind faith that she could deal with the consequences. "You say to yourself, 'I have to go into debt to make it work, and whatever it takes later, I'll manage.'" Later has now arrived, and Mikhail is finding out the true cost of her college degree.
1. Griffith worked for a firm that specialized in economic development in Washington D.C. because she needed money to pay for her debt.
2. The only problem the students are facing at graduation is the dismal job market.
3. One reason why colleges increase tuition and fees is that the state support is shrinking.
4. Nearly all the families can manage to meet the soaring tuition costs through various investment plans.
5. According to Nadine's calculation, she can pay off all her debt when she is ________ if she can get a salary of $120,000 a year right out of law school.
6. Students get money from not only federal loans but also ________.
7. The college department or association can get payments from the issuer if it sanctions credit cards decorated with ________.
8. O'Donnell thinks that the cause of her 22-year-old son's suicide is ________.
9. The author says that foregoing a college education is often not a wise choice because ________ of the 50 highest paying jobs require a four-year college degree except for air traffic controllers and nuclear power reactor operators.
10. Merit will have to start with a more lucrative legal job instead of her favorite position—a public-interest attorney because she has to ________.