Tackling student loan debt

Today, more than $1.3 trillion is owed among 43 million borrowers in the country. Of those student borrowers, more than 7.3 million are at least 90 days delinquent on their loans.
Courtesy: KIMT

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – It’s graduation season, but for many students, it just continues the frustration of student loans.

College loan debt tops $1.3 trillion. If you paid $10 a second, it would take more than 3,200 years to pay it back.

Columbiana’s Ryan Guy just finished his first semester in Youngstown State University’s doctoral program. He is working to become a physical therapist.

“Right now with physical therapy, I know it’s a booming career,” Guy said.

But what is also booming is his student loan debt — he has accrued $55,000 in debt already from getting his associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. Plus, he expects to add $40,000 to that debt before getting his doctorate.

“When I get done, I’m just going to try and pay them off as fast as I can so I’m not accumulating interest,” Guy said. “I know in the long run you almost pay double what you started.”

Seven out of 10 college graduates owe money, according to government statistics, with the average graduate having $30,000 to pay back in loans. Congressman Tim Ryan believes this could be improved.

“You make sure you’re loaning them money that doesn’t have outrageous interest rates on it,” Ryan said. “Seven percent, 8 percent, 9 percent, we shouldn’t be making a whole lot of money off kids going to school.”

YSU expanded its bulk rate tuition program in January, where students can add more classes for the same cost. There are other ways to make college education cheaper.

“First of all, make a budget and stick to it,” said Todd Bury of Bury Financial Group. “Secondly, we’d say attack your student debt early.”

And Guy understands that. He makes extra payments on his undergrad degrees, and he’s got a plan for the rest.

“After college I plan on living minimally, trying to really knock that debt out,” Guy said.

There’s more money owed on college loans now than people who owe on mortgages. Twenty-five percent of borrowers are behind on their payments.

“Make sure you exhausted all resources. Did you make sure all the scholarships that were available were taken, or grants or a student work program while you were in school? Because if you can borrow less and cut it off up front, that will go a long way in the end,” Bury said.

Bury offered some advice for students taking out loans:

  • Try to borrow less
  • Make a budget
  • Attack the student debt early
  • Make extra payments
  • Live modestly
  • Earn more
  • Don’t forget to deduct allowable student loans on tax returns

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