Financial experts offer possible relief as student debt continues to grow
By Nick Adams, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
In Illinois, 64% of college students graduate with an average of $28,000 in debt according to CNN Money. Those making debt payments are doing everything they can to get some sort of relief.
The average student loan debt across the county has risen roughly six percent each year from 2008 to 2012 according to the Institute for College Access and Success, but financial officers say there are ways to limit how much money you have to pay once you get your college degree.
For students like Quincy University Senior Justin Dickens, repaying his student loans is his first priority after he graduates in May.
"I'm very anxious because you know leaving college you want to start your career and your life and a debt is just something that holds you back. So I think once I leave, I'm going to be all over it," Dickens said.
For students like Dickens looking to pay off those loans, financial aid officials say there are a couple of options. Kevin Williams with Quincy University said if you have private loans, students can refinance but if you have federal loans, consolidating could be your best option.
"You want to be careful, and you want to make sure you look at all your options. You know for one person, it may be good to look into, for another it may not be such a good option," Williams said.
Williams said students need to look at what interest rates they're currently paying before considering consolidation.
"I think we're seeing a growing trend of people being more educated and involved in their student loans. College debt is a huge issue these days, so I think people are just looking at options that are available and that seems to be a growing trend," he said.
As for soon to be graduates like Dickens, the last thing he wants is to have student loan debt long after college.
"Any extra money or free money I have is going right to my payments for student loans," Dickens said.
If you have a private loan through a bank, you might consider refinancing, but you need to have a steady job and decent credit. Refinancing can mean a lower interest rate of a percentage point or two. You can also lower your payments but that could mean extending the loan.
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