Can I afford $160,000 worth of loans after graduating?

by Carly
(Nashua, NH, US)

College financing with loans? - Growing up, my parents lived paycheck to paycheck. They stressed the importance of college so that I would be better off than they were. When it came time, I choose a unique field (aviation) at a private college that cost roughly $40,000 per year. My mother was familiar with the loan process and applied for me. I knew nothing about loans other than my mom presented me with documents and told me to sign. Each year, I applied for scholarships and worked to begin repayment on my loans. Even so, I graduated with over $60,000 worth of debt. Now I am working three jobs to pay off my student loans and I am worse off than my parents ever were with this amount of debt. My advice for college students……

- Apply for scholarships!!! There are thousands of them, all you have to do is search the internet. Many ask for essays about your future plans or how you plan to use the money. Keep track of ones you have applied to and if you don’t win this year, you can try again next year. A big misconception about scholarships is that they are only for high school seniors going to college next year. Not true, there are scholarships for every year of college!
-No matter what field you choose, your first and second year can easily be done at a cheaper community college. My first two years at my $40,000 private college were mostly beginner classes like Public Speaking and Humanities courses. I could have done these classes at a community college for thousands less and lived at home.

-Understand your loan terms before you sign them!! I had no idea how much money I was borrowing in student loans. My mother did most of the work for me and all I had to do was sign for them. It wasn’t until my last two years that I realized how much debt I had and how much interest had already accrued.

-Work part time through college!! I was a full time student, worked part time, was active with church and clubs on campus, and still managed to get good grades. And I never pulled an all-nighter! It takes time management but working part time through college and making payments on your loans while still in school is helpful. I paid off a $6,000 loan (at a 9.7% interest rate) while I was still in school. Over the 2 years, I paid $3,000 just in interest, meaning the loan actually cost me $9,000!!

-After you graduate and your loans are in repayment, pay extra if you can!! As it stands right now, my expected pay off for my student loans is around $90,000 over the next 14 years. If I pay extra now, it will save me from paying loads of accrued interest later.

Read more College Financial Aid Advice from other students and parents who have been through process.

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Carly for some good advice about paying for college. Good luck to you.

There's a limit??

(Brandon, Ohio)

So here I sit in my senior year of college and I came to the end of the road in financial aid funding!!! I did not think this was right so I called up to the offices and they said I hit my limit on financial aid loans and grants, and now I’m stuck paying the rest out of pocket.

My advice to current and prospective students, know what you want to be and know what school you want to be at. A lot of times students just do not know what they want to be and when they get to the school it is not the one for them, and this can result in using up too much financial aid like my situation. If only I would of finished at the first college I started at things would of been much easier.

I thought financial aid was until you’re done with your degree, but in reality everything comes to an end and this end smacked me right in the face. Another piece of advice that will help students is just take what you need, and do not hope for a refund check. This does not just eat up the financial aid they limit, it also makes your loan situation a nightmare in the end, trust me now I know.

For example if your tuition is 4000$ and you total awards for that semester is 9000$, take 500$ for books not the extra 5000$. In my experience as well as my friends, college living might be a strain on the wallet and the extra 5000$ at the time seems good, but do not do it!!!

The moral of the story here basically is know your long term priorities. Do you really want to pay back forty or fifty thousand dollars back for years for taking your max each semester, or would you rather see that bill be four or five thousand. Trust me I am already seeing what is to come and I have not even received my first bill. YES THERE’S A LIMIT!!!!!!!

Read more tips on Financial Aid Funding from other students and parents who have been through the student loan process.

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Brandon for sharing your advice about financial aid funding. Loans are not free money, there is a limit and you do have to pay them back. Best of luck to you as you graduate and get that really good job so you can pay back your student loans.

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