Grads catch a break on student loan interest rates
Congress approved legislation Friday that would save millions of construction jobs and prevent interest rates on student loans from doubling.
The bill would spend more than $100 billion on highway and transit programs over two years. It also extends the 3.4 percent interest rate on federally subsidized Stafford loans for one year.
While students and loan borrowers can breathe a sigh of relief, the amount of debt for college graduates is still increasing.
"It's still nerve wrecking to know that there is a possibility of not working for six months to a year when I have college debt to pay off," Stephanie Bogner said.
Bogner is earning her Masters degree in Communication from Western Illinois University. After six years of college and with a degree, she's she's nervous for the future.
The average student loan debt for recent graduates in the U.S. is $25,000.
"Looking back if I would have budgeted a little bit better I probably could have gotten away with taking out less for loans or given some back but you can't do anything about it now," Bogner said.
Except not pay your loans back.
"One of the biggest things to do is to not go into delinquency, make sure you can make those payments," Bob Anderson, of Western Illinois University Financial Aid Office said.
The Federal Bank of New York estimates 37 million Americans have student loan debt. This led to an increase in bankruptcies. Financial Aid advisors say if you can't make your loan payments to stay in contact with your borrower because defaulting on a loan can hurt more than your credit.
"They have the best bill collectors and everything, but they can garnish wages, they can take your tax return refunds," Anderson said.
Not every student needs to worry about being hounded by creditors. Cassady Ukele is a recent grad of Columbia College in Missouri. She graduated with no debt and with a job. Ukele received a scholarship that paid for her first two years at a community college and the next two at Columbia were paid by her mother and a work study program. The same organization she was placed at for her study program hired her after graduation.
"I just can't believe it," Ukele said. "Everyday I look back and I just think, how did I get right here, everything is panning out."
Ukele situation is rare in today's job markets and economic climate. But if you have to take out loans there are ways to minimize the amount you borrow.
"Make sure you set up a budget and know what your loans will be in the end so that you can have a good plan so that you're not coming out of college in a lot of debt," Bogner said.