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Talking About Student Loans

Following a recent study on college debt by the Institute for College Access and Success, Nancy Davidson, Augustana's vice president for Enrollment, and senior Jaci Mowinkel talked with KSFY-TV about what students should think about as they near the end of college and face repayment:

An Augie Senior Talks Student Loans
By Alex Ronallo
KSFY-TV
Nov. 29, 2011

The average college graduate in South Dakota will leave school with about 23,000 dollars in student loan debt. That's according to a study from the "Institute for College Access and Success." That can be a daunting debt for someone in their early twenties.

But there are many options out there for students with college debt and it's important for South Dakota's grads especially to listen up, because that same study found this state has the highest amount of grads with debt.

The key is to start thinking about your debts before you graduate.

Augie senior Jaci Mowinkel knows college isn't free or cheap. She says, "I definitely knew no matter where I went to school I was gonna come out with some kind of debt, especially since my parents told me up front, 'you are going to be paying for school, those are loans in your name!'"

The education major says she graduates in spring, but she's already thinking about her student loan debts. She's started asking what she can do to get a jump on paying them off, saying, "professors, they can lead you to other places too, that how I found out about some grants."

For instance, Jaci found out if she takes a teaching job at a title one school, she can get help with her debt. She says, "I look to see if the government does a loan pay back."

Augie's Vice President of Enrollment Nancy Davidson says the majority of students are in Jaci's shoes. Davidson says it's never too early to think about how you'll pay that debt back. She says only borrow what you're comfortable repaying and start learning to budget now.

Davidson says if the payments are too much to handle once you're in the real world, there are options. She says, "income-based payment, extended payment, they can defer payment."

Davidson says students do have a 6-month grace period after graduation before their debt payments start, so take advantage of it. She says, "kind of be putting some money aside to help assist when they do kick in."

Davidson says finally, take a tip from Jaci, talk to your parents and visit your school's financial aid department. Jaci says, "I say, 'I know I'm here early, but I wanna be prepared when everything happens!'"

Jaci says graduation will be here before you know it.

Nancy Davidson says you need to think of college as an investment in yourself. So, she says, you need to take it seriously, work part time, do internships, that way you're more likely to find work when you graduate. It's just another way to get off on the right foot with paying the loans back.