BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — According to federal data 40% of Americans are not making payments or are behind on student loan payments.
“I just think it’s a lack of understanding i think when they get out maybe they had an expectation that they were going to graduate college and immediately walk into a job making 60, 70 thousand dollars a year and that really is unrealistic,” said Connie Cooke, Buffalo State Director of Financial Aid.
Cooke says about 70% of students who attend Buffalo State take out loans and about 7.9% of them default on them.
“The key is they should only borrow what they need to cover their education and many students they borrow more than direct tuition,” said Cooke.
Like many other students, Kayla Bennett had to take out loans to pay for her education at Buffalo State.
She says she’ll owe about $20,000 once she graduates.
Although she’s just a freshman, the thought of having to pay that money back starting in 2019 makes her nervous.
“It just motivates me a little bit more to like make sure that i get some type of job even if it’s not specifically in my field just so i can have something so when they start trying to take money from me i have something to give them,” said Bennett.
The average debt load for a University at Buffalo student is $21,228 and the loan default rate is 4.5%.
Cooke says students should look at what they will be making as an entry level worker in their field to make sure they can pay their loans.
“When the students graduate typically they get a grace period of 6 months on the federal loans before the first payment is due. sometimes they change their addresses they’re not getting their mail not just staying connected to the fact that they have borrowed so sometimes i think it’s not a deliberate intentional action. i think it’s that they aren’t prepared to go into repayment,” said Cooke.
To avoid defaulting on loans, those who borrowed can reach out to the department of education to ask to suspend repayment or ask to be put on a different kind of repayment plan.