Move over credit cards – college debt is now the No. 1 source of consumer debt in America. Student loans now account for more than $1 trillion in outstanding debt for U.S. consumers, surpassing what’s owed on credit cards, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. And with tuition costs continuing to rise, some experts predict the growing debt burden could soon spark an economic crisis.
The College Conundrum
There is no simple solution, as higher education remains a boon to most graduates’ future prospects. Statistics show that those with a college degree enjoy lower unemployment rates, a better chance of having health insurance and job satisfaction, and higher lifetime earnings (nearly $20,000 per year higher according to the U.S. Census Bureau). So how can degree-seekers balance the cost and benefits? Very carefully.
First, be sure to pursue all forms of financial aid. In addition to completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) every year, search for college scholarships on your own. You may find scholarship opportunities through family members’ employers, organizations based on your area of study and groups that you belong to.
When it comes to borrowing, consider limiting the total loan amount to no more than twice what you can expect to earn in your field as an entry-level worker. Subsidized federal loans often offer the lowest interest rates and most flexible terms, including covering the interest payments while you’re in school. Take the maximum amount offered in subsidized loans before turning to unsubsidized federal loans.
Let Us Help
You can also apply for funding from Navigator to help cover the remaining balance of a college education. Our loan officers will work with you to understand your goals and situation, then create a strategy that makes the most sense for you and your family. To learn more about how we can help you keep college debt under control, call our Lending Call Center at 228-474-3401.