According to a new study, Americans now owe more on student loans than they do on credit cards. This week is Student Debt Awareness Week, which begs the question, are your kids prepared to pay off their student loans?
In 2011, college seniors in Illinois graduated with an average debt of $26,000 a person, according to www.projectonstudentdebt.org. With tuition continuing to rise, that dollar figure is expected to go up even more.
Quincy University Student Sara Belmont said she was uneasy about loans when looking at colleges.
"I didn't know how I was going to pay for it. I come from two working parents. I didn't have a college fund or anything like that," Belmont said. "I knew it was going to be a lot of loan taking out, government help, as well as scholarships and that has really helped so far, but I'm still in a lot of debt as of now."
Kevin Williams, financial aid counselor at Quincy University, said there are options available for students facing debt. He said sometimes it depends on your major and the financial aid plan you choose. But once a student graduates, they typically have nine months before they have to start paying off those loans.
"I think money is a big issue for everyone," said Williams. "They may not think of it so much right now as they would when they are older, but if they can just try to get into that mentality and just think 'ok, these are loans I'm going to have to pay back, plus interest.' That is why we try to catch it early."
Williams suggests filling out the FAFSA as early as possible because a lot of scholarships and loans are on a first come first serve basis. He also recommends students ask questions about loan forgiveness and payback plans that they may be eligible for.
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