Think before you borrow

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Going to college is supposed to lead to a more prosperous future. However, in today’s society it is almost impossible to attend a college or university without borrowing loans, which can create serious long term debt.

The government grants aid to students based on need and eligibility. Since most students require a certain type of loan to help pay for college, the majority of the population pursuing a higher education will also be pursuing a higher need of money and long-term accrued debt.

“We encourage students to keep track of what they borrow and understand what it means in the long term,” California Baptist University’s Loan Coordinator Sonya Lopez said.

Most students receive loans with ease and this makes it easier to almost forget that it is borrowed money. For this reason it may be important to consider tracking the amount of money borrowed and acknowledge that as a student’s grade level increases, the amount of aid offered also goes up.

“Because I have loans I don’t think about that scholarships offer. Loans are already available so you don’t really think about them too much,” junior Megan Bell Harrell said.

It is much easier to accept a loan than to pay the money back to the government. Since the entire process of accepting loans is simple and all students are required to do is fill out the FAFSA, complete entrance and exit counseling and a master promissory form, students tend to focus on attending school and think about the payments later.

“The Federal Stafford loans are the most flexible and most forgiving loan that you will find. They offer low interest rates, interest only payments, deferred payments while in school and lenient repayment plans,” Lopez said.

Tracking how much you borrow and starting to pay off the debt you are accruing while you are still in school can potentially reduce the amount of money you will have to pay once you are no longer attending school.

“We want to encourage students to track their loans, by using www.nslds.ed.gov (National Student Loan Database). Students should take an honest look at how much they borrow, the debt and average salary they can expect,” Lopez said.

It is also important to consider paying off the interest that is accrued while in college, as this can not only save you money in the long run but also help pay off debt faster. If you are currently working, put some money aside to pay off the interest. If there is no interest that you are required to pay, consider saving a certain amount of money to be paid off every so often.

“I plan to start paying off my loans over the summer,” freshman Brandon Petrie said. “Sometimes I think it’s bad to have accepted so much money because you don’t realize you have thousands of dollars in loans but it helps pay for college now.”

But borrowing loans is not just about having to pay them back. There are also many benefits that come with borrowing money for school. As long as you make sure to pay them back in time, your credit score will increase and the education you are receiving now will one day pay for them.

“Remember that borrowing for college is one of the only debts you can have that will be a long term investment in the future, as a college graduate’s income is much higher than a non-college graduate,” Lopez said.

“I am excited to announce that with the upcoming year we will be working on advocating our Default Prevention outreach. Look for workshops in the months to come, that will help educate our students on their rights as student loan borrowers and debt management responsibilities. We want to encourage smart and responsible borrowing and teach basic financial planning and life skills,” Lopez said.

Loans are not only helpful in paying off school but are also helpful in increasing a student’s credit. Know how much to borrow and learn to pay off the amount due for the relief of stress that debt ensures.

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