KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Aristotle once said, “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” And sometimes what happens after college can leave recent graduates with a sour taste in their mouth.
“It’s definitely a worry when you hear these massive numbers from your friends,” Emily Lakin told 41 Action news.
She and Margaret Miles are among the millions of college seniors crossing the stage with a degree in one hand, and student loan debt in the other.
“My parents are always like, you have to start paying your student loans off,” Lakin said.
Seven out of 10 college seniors will graduate owing roughly $30,000 per borrower, and the majority of students like Lakin and Miles are solely responsible for repaying those loans.
Yet half of all college students haven’t researched repayment methods.
“My biggest concern right now is to get a job and make sure I can save up enough money to make payments on my loans,” Miles said.
For the Class of 2019, the time to start repaying those loans is now.
Eric Blair, vice president for enrollment and marketing at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, said exit counseling is important for all college seniors.
“It’s something that’s mandated,” Blair said, “just like entrance counseling is.”
Blair said counseling helps students understand loan repayment values and monthly payments. However, students and parents alike can visit their university’s financial aid office and start learning about the process as early as freshman year.
There also is the option, according to Blair, to start paying toward loans while in school.
“You can pay against that principle, pay ahead,” Blair said. “Pay as much as you can.”
For those who might not be currently employed, two options exist – apply for a deferment or forbearance. A forbearance allows temporarily suspension of payments for up to one year, but interest will still accrue. In each case, the person paying the loans must apply for permission to postpone payments.