This article comes from the Campus Contributor Network. Over the course of the semester, students from across our campus outreach program will analyze their school’s finances and assess the overall return students see on their educational investments.
Paying for college can be tough for anyone, during and after their time on campus. Even though Colorado State University is priced well and very few students end up defaulting on their loans, there is a lack of resources available to those who are no longer attending school but need help with their repayment plans.
CSU student debt by the numbers
According to the 2016-2017 Financial Aid Guide, the average direct loan debt accrued by undergraduates who graduated in Spring 2015 was $21,709. 56% of students from that year graduated with debt.
While the typical federal student loan expects you to pay back what you’ve borrowed plus interest in ten years, recent research has shown that the average amount of time it takes for Bachelor’s degree holders to pay off their loans is 19.7 years.
What does CSU do?
CSU does not offer any loan repayment plans or directly lend out money like some universities (e.g. Northwestern University), but facilitates the lending of government and private loans. The Office of Financial Aid website has a section about repaying your loans, which explains the Standard, Extended and Income-dependent plans. Perhaps the most depressing fact on this page is the one that says even if you die, your family will have to work with your loan servicer to attempt to have your loans cancelled. This bleak statement serves as a reminder of the seriousness of taking out students loans.
When students graduate, they are sent an email reminder to complete loan exit counseling at studentloans.gov to help them figure out how to start repaying their debts. Other than this small requirement, there aren’t many easily accessible resources available to help students understand what to do with their loan debt.
How your loans affect you
Other than taking an average of two decades to pay off, having student loan debt leads many people to put their lives on hold. With so much debt, saving for retirement, planning on marriage and children, buying houses and even just purchasing daily necessities can become struggles. Students who have graduated or dropped-out can easily find themselves overwhelmed.
More than affecting you and your life after school, the potential harms of debt have also turned many students away from attending college at all. The fear of money problem is stunting pursuits of higher education, according to The Institute for College Access and Success.
Better education needed
Entrance and exit counseling doesn’t seem to be enough for students anymore. They need more education about the full impact of taking out loans and having student debt. Universities like CSU should make more resources available, especially since the five year graduation rate at CSU is only about 64%. With over a third of students not even finishing their degrees, but many of them still having large amounts of debt, it’s clear that the costs of higher education and system of loan repayments needs to be reformed.
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