By Mary-Wren Ritchie
Accepting student loans is as simple as pressing a button on the computer. But accepting and not reviewing the loans until after college only makes a graduate’s economic woes greater. Utsavi Patel, a sophomore at UNC Charlotte, doesn’t know how much money she owes. “I don’t even want to think about the amount,” she says. Patel is far from alone in that stance. Out of a sample of 20 university students, only two knew the exact amount of student loan debt they’ve accrued.
The proverb “with knowledge comes power” leaves out the trillion IOUs that also accompany knowledge. In 2012 student loan debt reached the $1 trillion mark. Like any bad credit score, that huge chunk of money did not happen overnight. Between 2000 and 2010 enrollment in degree-granting institutions rose 37 percent. One factor contributing to the enrollment influx is that high school diplomas cease to be sufficient to get even the most basic entry-level position. In fact, according to a recent article in the New York Times, many employers are hiring people with college degrees for lower-skilled positions once offered to people with less education. Regardless of the reason, more students are in college, more money is being loaned and less money is being repaid.
While the population growth of college students explains why more student loans are being dished out, it does not explain why student loans are not being repaid. Lack of student loan repayment includes a slow recovering economy that’s been particularly unfavorable toward people under age 25. But another reason is some students’ full awareness of the far-reaching commitment made when taking student loans.
Student loans are commodities that are often taken for granted. College students are not always responsible with money. Student loans should not be seen as an easy money option.
Graduates don’t always properly prioritize student loan repayment. Websites such as Project on Student Debt and Bank of America offer resources for students receiving student loans. The following are 10 tips for repaying student loans:
- Use student loan exiting counseling
- Know your loans
- Know your grace period
- Stay in touch with your lender
- Pick the right repayment option
- Keep on top of payments
- Know the tie between student loans and your credit score
- Pay off the most expensive loans first
- To consolidate or not to consolidate
- Loan forgiveness
For a more in depth look at these tips plus more visit http://projectonstudentdebt.org/recent_grads.vp.html and http://learn.bankofamerica.com/articles/managing-credit/10-tips-for-paying-off-student-loans.html.
Student loans are key in making higher forms of education affordable. The availability of student loans is not the problem. The problem is many students with student loans do not understand the resources and options they have when taking and repaying student loans. Loan-takers should be familiar with the definitions of terms like unsubsidized, subsidized, consolidation and loan forgiveness. People who have student loan debt should first understand what the loans are and then plan out ways to pay.