SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)- Today’s college experience is not just about hitting the books. Now, students are forced to make decisions that will greatly impact their financial future, like how much can you afford to take on in student loan debt.
Like college freshman, Joe Polidoro, who worked full time over the summer leading into his freshman year to help pay his tuition and avoid taking out student loans. “I basically worked a lot, got some scholarships and got some help from my parents.”
New research from the Project on Student Loan Debt says that nationally nearly 70 percent of college grads in 2013 finished school with debt.
The research also shows that Massachusetts is 14th in the nation for the amount of loan debt college students are graduating with; a number averaging of a little more than $28,500.
Some of the schools topping the list for student leaving with the highest amount of debt include Becker College, Endicott College, and College of Our Lady of the Elms. Some of the schools students graduate from with the least amount of debt include Amherst College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University.
Financial experts at American International College told 22News that in order to keep those numbers down it’s a good idea to exhaust all your tuition assistance options first before you look to take out loans. You can look for scholarships from local foundations, your parents’ work place, or through civic groups.
They also say to make these financial decisions early. That way, “you can have a realistic goal as to what you’re trying to borrow over these few years, what you may want to do in terms of a part time job or looking for other ways to kind of lower that number,” Richard O’Connor, Associate Director of Financial Aid at AIC, told 22News.
O’Conner also advises you stick to using loans only for tuition, not living expenses. Also, when calculating how much you can afford to pay back later, think about what other kinds of expenses you will have after graduation.