Reporting Bill Hudson
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In her fourth year at the University of Minnesota, psychology senior Laurie Grad is one of the lucky ones. She’ll graduate next spring, owing roughly $14,000 in student loan debt. Lucky, because that’s substantially less than the $27,000 that the average university student will owe.
So to her, the pressure will be on to find a job and quickly.
“And yes, even if I don’t that’s something that’s really scary. Hopefully, I can lean on mom and dad, but many kids can’t so that’s scary,” said Grad.
Paying for a college education has never been harder and the debt load never higher. That’s why financial aid and literacy experts gathered inside the University’s Coffman Union. They’re urging students and their parents to understand all the options of getting and repaying college loans.
Raj Date is a special advisor at the U.S. Treasury Department. He’s promoting the help available through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a branch of the Treasury.
“There’s evidence that more than half of all students with private student loans actually have not exhausted their opportunities for federal loans,” explained Date. “That means they probably have loans that are more expensive and less flexible than they could have gotten.”
“It’s a big concern,” added college student Kamille Rocha.
Her story is strikingly similar. After being told that her parents’ income disqualified her for financial aid, she turned to putting expenses on a credit card. In her first two years at a community college, Rocha racked up over $10,000 in debt at an interest rate of nearly 20 percent.
She’s since transferred to a four-year school and has accessed federal student loans. But the experience has her worried how she will make both payments upon graduation.
“It’s a lot cause I’m still paying that off and I’m going to be stuck with that until I can pay it all off,” said Rocha.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has helpful information to student loan borrowers, including a prototype college shopping sheet. The financial tool is intended to help students and parents compare financial award letters, loan products and repayment options of all college funding products. Click here for more information from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau .