Student loan debt hitting record levels

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Borrowing money for education has put more and more people in a financial hole, with more people dipping into federal loan programs. A recent study found more people are in debit from student loans than credit cards.

"That's why I don't carry a credit card. I have so much student loan debit now that's it's going to be hard to pay anything," said ASU student Darel Smith.

Smith is one of the growing number of students that have to rely on student loans to get an education. "I've pulled out about 15-thousand dollars so far and that's at a period of right about three years," said Smith.

A recent report showed last year alone the amount of student loans exceeded the 100- billion dollar mark for the first time ever.

"People going back to school, and people are having to borrow money to be able to go back to school," said Terry Finney, who is the Director of Financial Aid & Scholarships at ASU.

He says roughly 60-percent of students on campus rely on student loans. Considering money does grow on trees

and the cost of tuition constantly going up, students have to depend on the lending tree to pay for it all. It's a situation that can leave quite a burden after graduation.

"If they borrow the maximum they could borrow each year probably about 16 to 17 thousand dollars," said Finney.

Loans that have to be paid off with in a ten year period and something you can't run away from. "There's no way to get away from student loans. Once you borrow, it's with you. You're going to have to pay it back. You can't discharge it in bankruptcy," said Finney.

Finney says his advice to students..."Borrow what you need and that's what we try to tell students here. If you need 2-thousand dollars more to make it through the year, then borrow 2-thousand dollars. Why do you need to borrow 55 hundred?"

He says just be smart about, and understand the responsibility in the long run. As for Smith, we it worth it?

"To a certain extent yes. I mean, we have all this debit that we are going to have to pay and it's a huge amount. It's going to take us longer to be a productive member of society, than if we didn't pull out a student loan," said Smith.

Finney says there are different payment plans that will stretch over a longer period of time, but you often end up paying more interest when it's all said and done. Students are not required to start making payments on student loans until six months after graduation.

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