Student Loan Debt
by Melissa Winger
$1.2 trillion and growing!
That is the staggering total for outstanding student loan debt in the United States. That debt load is held by about 40 million Americans. About 70% of the students, who receive a 4 year degree, graduate with some varying amounts of student loan debt, and the average amount owed is upwards of $37,000.
The cost of going to college is an ever increasing burden to students and their families. Education before going off to college, though, may be the key to success when it comes to the return on your investment.
*FAFSA- The Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Financial Aid is available in the form of grants, scholarships, loans, and work study programs. By filling out the FAFSA, students learn if they are eligible for need based aid or other aid.
*Scholarships- Scholarships are available from many sources. Colleges offer scholarships for certain educational or sports related areas. Churches, Employers, Civic Groups, Alumni Associations, and Community Organizations often offer scholarships. It’s wise to do the research on all the others that are offered. Every little bit will help.
*College Credit- Many high schools nationwide offer college credit for advanced and other courses. Take full advantage of credits at reduced or no cost.
*Repayment- A wide variety of repayment programs are offered on college loans. Loans from the Federal Government have many choices for repayment as well as some forgiveness based on career choices. Repayment can be based on income earned after graduation, a graduated scale, a standard repayment term, and other options. It’s important, though, to look at this BEFORE the loans are taken out, so it is not a shock once a student graduates college and has to begin repayment.
*Questions- Tough choices need to be made when it comes to the reality of the costs of school before enrollment. Look at the big picture. Sit down with an expert. Does it make sense to go to a school that costs $45,000 per year as opposed to one that costs $20,000? Has all aid as well as savings been included in that big picture? Has the student and their family looked at what the repayment will be later? Look at the future earnings potential based on your degree in comparison to what will be owed. Set up a sample budget for after graduation.
*Additional Expenses- Often times, it’s easy to just look at the tuition of a college. There can be other added expenses though including housing, groceries, transportation, books, and other fees.
Nearly 7 million Americans are in default on their Federal Student Loans. Life does happen, but don’t let poor planning make you into a statistic. A college education is a dream for many, and with proper planning, it can still be an affordable dream.
If you are struggling with high interest rate credit card debt in addition to your student loans and other obligations, please give us a call. We are available for a free, no obligation consultation.