The Impending Doom of Student Loans


Heather Paque via Creative Commons License

Emily Tasker, Staff Writer

Don’t fear, adulthood is here! Or maybe fear a little bit, because graduating means getting a full-time job, maybe going to college, and becoming a full-fledged adult. Hopefully all eager college-bound kids can sleep a little better after reading this article.

So what exactly are student loans and how can we learn more about them? Well, good old Slippery Rock High School offers a financial planning class. It is taught by Mrs. Bollinger and teaches flailing teenagers how to be fiscally responsible in this day and age. Currently it is only available for seniors, but that shouldn’t stop students from educating themselves about the radical world of financial stability. Student loans are loans made to help students pay for college tuition and other college fees such as textbooks and living expenses.

There are two types of loans: federal and private and either students or their guardians can take out the loan. So, what’s the difference? Federal loans are seen as the lesser of two evils, as they have more benefits than private loans. Federal loans are subsidized by the government, so if a student doesn’t pay, the lender will still get their money back, and there are no penalties on the student’s part. They also have fixed interest rates that are generally lower than private loans and students do not have to start paying off these debts until they graduate, leave school, or change their enrollment status to less than half-time. Many private loans require that students pay while they are still enrolled in school and their interest rates are generally more expensive. It is unlikely that a private lender will offer a loan forgiveness program if individuals cannot afford to keep up with their payments.

So, can students lighten the load of an impending student debt? Mrs. Bollinger recommends that students should start saving as soon as possible, and that any kind of small scholarships can  really start to add up. “But wait!” thousands of students yell, “No one here is smart or athletic enough for a scholarship!” Worry not friends, there are all kinds of scholarships out there! Zombie apocalypse survivalists can gain a scholarship for their preparedness for flesh-eating monsters. Vegetarians that promote vegetarianism within their community can receive scholarship offers just for that. Even creating a greeting card can reward someone up to $10,000 in scholarships. But if a scholarship—weird or not—isn’t an option, there is always Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA.

The standard repayment plan for federal student loans will put borrowers on a 10-year track to pay off their debt, but it has been shown that the average bachelor’s degree holder takes about 21 years to pay off their student debt. Thinking about taking most of an adult’s life to pay off debt for higher education is a little nauseating, but college isn’t for everyone. Realize that it may take a while to pay off the loans because of the interest rate the borrower chose and even the college and loan type they decided on. Also, community colleges are most likely going to give students less debt than ivy league schools. But even then, students can refinance their loans. Refinancing may sound scary and foreign, but it simply means that one can change their interest rate, whether they make it higher or lower in order to change how much is paid and how quickly the debt is paid off.

Will all of this information laid out (even if it is quite a bit to process at the moment) no one has to fear the future that much anymore! It is always good to remember that nobody has to go through this process alone.