Local expert offers tips to minimize student loan debt

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The cost of college continues to rise, as does the amount of loans students are taking out.

The deadline for deposits at many schools is May 1. That’s also when many students decide to weigh themselves down with debt for years.

With the ever-growing cost of higher education, it’s important to be careful when shopping for those loans.

According to the Princeton Review, the top concern for college applicants and parents is debt, and with good reason. A survey by Citizens Bank finds college graduates 35 years old and younger are spending 18% of their salaries just to pay off loans.

So WNCT has some advice to prevent students from drowning in debt.

  • Apply early. Funds for many loans are limited.
  • Consider attending community college for 2 years to save money.
  • Have a good understanding of the loan’s terms, conditions and repayment requirements.
  • Budget properly and only borrow what is needed. Students don’t have to accept the entire amount of a loan they’re offered.

ECU Personal Finance professor Len Rhodes says it’s important to consider what degree the student plans to pursue.

“It doesn’t make sense to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars for a degree that has you in the 20s, or 30s or $40,000s in terms of an annual salary. So it’s all a balancing act,” Rhodes said, adding that many people don’t understand how they can pay for college. “I think the biggest misconception is maybe that student loans are where you begin, rather than student loans in my perspective are where you end in how you finance yours or your student’s time at their institution.”

Students can also look for grants and scholarships. Many civic organizations or employers will also offer financial aid to member’s or employees’ children.

There are some things students can do while in school too. Consider working part-time, or even making interest payments before graduation.

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