Students resorting to more college loans each year

Sep 24, 2012

Although student loans have given Stony Brook University students effective plans and strategies to pay for university tuition, books, meal plans and living expenses, they may cause student loan debt and repayment difficulties after graduation.

“As education and housing costs rise, more students are finding that student loans do not cover all of their expenses,” said Patrick Lunsford, an editor at insideARM.com, a debt collection website. “So many students are turning to other types of loans like personal loans or credit cards, to fill the gaps.”

Afterr four years, SUNY students have an average debt of about $25,000. The average debt of a SBU student upon graduation is less than the national average of more than $25,000, according to Associate Provost for Enrollment and Retention Management Matthew Whelan. SUNY students pay about 60 percent of their tuition with student loans.

College debt is a major concern for many students, who may face considerable monthly payments well after graduating and even as they enter the work force.

Student debt exceeds credit card debt, remaining at $914 billion as of June 30, 2012, according to a Federal Reserve report.

“We have a fairly low default rate because we work very hard in our financial aid office for students to understand what loans mean,” Whelan said. “As well as for students to know what their repayments mean.”

Students can choose from extended and graduated programs that can help pay their monthly payments. Extended programs stretch the repayment period for the loan over a longer period of time, making for less expensive monthly payments, while graduated programs start small and gradually increase over time.

Students are taking out more college loans every year. More students per year are attending university. The more people who attend college, the higher the cost of higher education and loans, according to Lunsford.

“Student loans are increasing per year given that the college tuition is increasing recently,” said Yiyi Zhou, an assistant professor of economics. “Those students with loans work harder in school for graduation and more likely to choose to work after graduation and those without loans may apply for graduate study.”

The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Services at SBU, which deals with financial matters, is located in Room 180 of the Administration building.