Is college worth it?

Grand Valley student wonders if college is worth the expense.

Rane Martin

Grand Valley student wonders if college is worth the expense.

Chelsea Stoskopf

With the national average of student loan debt at $23,186, according to the Office of Financial Aid, students can find it difficult to handle the repayment after reaching graduation.

Michelle Rhodes, director of Financial Aid at Grand Valley State University, said because of the willingness of the government to work with borrowers, the repayment amounts are realistic.

“The monthly payments for loans depend on what types of loans are taken out and what the interest rate is on those loans,” she said. “The government offers several different types of repayment options, so depending on what option you choose, that would determine your payment amount.”

Marnie Harris, associate director of Financial Aid, said students should pay attention to interest rates, fees associated with the loan, when the loan goes into repayment, options to pay the loan sooner, how the loan meets the student’s needs and whether the student can repay the loan in the long term.

“The more flexible the options are, the better off you are going to be because you never know what your situation is going to be like right out of college,” Harris said.

Rhodes and Harris agree in general, the best loans for students are the federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans because these have the best options and interest rates compared to other loans.

Secondary education major Colin Uren said he has taken out a federal unsubsidized loan and is not worried about repayment. He plans to start paying the loan back right after he graduates by working and setting money aside.

“I think loans are good because people naturally don’t have enough money, and instead of staying home or begging their parents for money, they can take out a loan and go to college and then pay it off when they get a real job,” he said. “If they want the college experience, then they just have to be willing to go into debt and pay it off later. If they don’t want loans, they need to make the necessary sacrifices in terms of living at home, going to community college or going somewhere that doesn’t cost as much.”

Rhodes said students should only take out the loans that are actually needed, and when they graduate, they must gather all information on their loans and call the lenders with questions about when payments are expected so they will not have a problem with the repayment process.

“If you continually take everything you are offered, that could be a whole lot more money after four years, which would make your repayments higher,” she said. “Student loans for most students are a critical part of completing their education,” she said. “It’s important they borrow wisely and do the best they can to finish school in as little time as possible. Try to get a job to pay for monthly expenses instead of getting a large refund check at the beginning of the semester. All of these things cannot always be done by each student. However, it is important to make wise choices.”

Harris said most importantly, students need to make sure they know how much debt in loans they have and know about repayment options.

“Be a consumer,” she said. “I mean, we know how much an iPad, TV and Gucci purses cost. How come we don’t know how much student loan debt we have? And you should know that so that you make good, smart decisions.”

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