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Paying off student loans doesn’t have to be a life sentence

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Picture yourself graduating from college. You may have landed a great job and moved into your own apartment. Or maybe you’re getting some work experience with an unpaid internship and you’ve moved back in with your parents for a few years. You may also have close to $30,000 in student loan debt that you feel like you’ll be paying off for the rest of your life.

You’re not alone. Before you go off to college, you might want to consider alternatives to student loans. Many people realize too late that they can’t afford the debt from their college expenses. Tuition, room and board, books and other costs over four or more years add up quickly. Not to mention if you choose to pursue an advanced degree.

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Student loan delinquencies in the U.S. are rising quickly. Student loan debt is also on the rise. The average student loan debt was $17,233 in 2005. In 2012, it had climbed to $27,253, an increase of more than 58 percent in just seven years.

Student Loan Delinquencies
Information from research done by FICO Labs

This debt increase combined with a slowly recovering economy has created an unstable situation; one that’s leading many to default on their student loan payments.

You might think defaulting on a loan isn’t a big deal. But, when you default on a loan, your credit rating drops and it’s more difficult to get approval for new credit. It’s a vicious cycle and it’s only getting worse. As more people default on their student loans, more of the population has lower credit scores, less access to credit and less opportunity to help grow the economy.

But this doesn’t mean you should skip college and go straight to working full-time. Student loans aren’t the only option to help pay for education. You do need to be prepared though. Don’t wait until you’re a senior in high school to start thinking about the following options:

  • Research scholarships and grants. As opposed to loans, students don’t have to pay back these types of financial aid.
  • Once you’re accepted to a school, research the least expensive options for non-tuition expenses (used books, on-campus housing, meal plans, etc.).
  • Get involved in the process so you can learn valuable financial lessons for the future. If you’re involved in the process from the start, you will have a better understanding of how to manage your money after college.

 

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Mr. Stone serves as vice president, financial center manager and is responsible for leading the execution of sales and client experience within the financial center. He joined UMB in 2005. Stone earned a Bachelor of Science in Management from Baker University in Baldwin, Kan.

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