Coping with College Costs

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Mon, June 4 2012 at 6:17 PM, Updated: Mon, June 4 2012 at 6:45 PM

 It's no wonder when you bring up loans, students get nervous.

Senior Kristen Hall said she has borrowed so much money, that she's close to running out of her student loans.

"I would say probably around 20-30 thousand dollars [...] hopefully I can graduate," she said.

Meantime, Ryken Robbins, an SOU Sophomore said debt is inevitable.

"You're just caught in this endless loop like you trade being in debt for getting an education," said Robbins.

Students could soon see thier loan debt increase even more. By July 1st it's expected federal stafford loan interest rates will double from 3.4% to 6.8%

"A lot of students these days who graduate you ask the question how much student debt do you have? They say I don't know," said SOU spokesman Jim Beaver.

Loan experts say that's the first problem...students need to be on top of how much money they've borrowed and what the interest rates are.

"It's kind of daunting looking at that huge debt in front of you," said Sophomore, Robbins.

One useful tool? Loan calculators on websites like www.finaid.org.

"Student debt these days is about $24,000," said Beaver.

If you put that figure into the loan calculator, for stafford loans over a 10-year repayment period, you could pay more than $9000 in interest alone.

"You don't want to think about it because it's stressful," said Robbins.

However, experts say students do need to think about their debt by considering their starting wages, and not borrowing more than they need.

Jim Beaver said SOU has the second least expensive tuition in the state. But he said students here in Southwest Oregon have the second highest loan debt. He said it's because students in our area are the poorest in the state and have to take out more loans to pay for their education.

For those just starting college, now is the right time to start thinking about college costs. An easy way to do it is after the first year, multiply the amount of money borrowed by the number of years it will take to complete your program.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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