SPRINGFIELD, Mo.–We’re seven months away before thousands of students graduate from college, but it’s not too early to start financially preparing now for student loan debt.
$26,000 in federal loans is what the average MSU student will owe after graduating.
So financial aid advisor Vicki Jacobson says to start planning before walking across the stage.
“It’s like high 20’s like I think $28,000. If you get a good job, you can pay that off in not too much time,” says MSU student, Benjamin McBride.
“Right now I’m probably sitting at about 20 to $25,000. At the moment, it sucks cause you know I really want some money and I don’t want to be in financial debt,” says MSU student, James Williams.
Student loan debt for most Missouri State students is unavoidable, but what is avoidable, according to Missouri State Financial Aid Counselor, Vicki Jacobson, is poor planning.
“Know what you owe. It’s unfortunate that students get through three to five years of school and they haven’t kept track of their student loan debt,” says Jacobson.
Once that’s been established, Jacobson says there are repayment options including refinancing federal to private loans depending on a good credit score.
“I’d say some pros to this you are able to combine a federal and a private loan. Currently you’re able to consolidate just all your federal loans. I would say some cons to that though, you lose the federal repayment options including income based options,” says Jacobson.
Some of these loan basics are explained to new students through MSU’s “Real Life Program.”
“We hire students to meet with our incoming freshmen to make what we call a “Real Life Presentation” explaining financial aid basics. How to monitor their spending and saving while they’re here on campus,” says Jacobson.
Similar to what Missouri Southern State University offers by connecting student borrowers with student coaches.
“We’re wanting them our students to look at what their entry level position pay might be so that they don’t borrow way more than the amount of their first year’s pay,” says Sharon Fraser of Missouri Southern State University.
“Budgeting I know for some that can be an intimidating or ugly word, but if you don’t know how much you’re bringing in or how much you’re spending, it’s very difficult to get on top of your student loans,” says Jacobson.
“I’m trying to get a job while I’m here in school. That way there’s not as much debt when I’m done,” says Williams.
The “Real Life Program” is available to students even after they graduate.