Feeling the heat

Anya Zentmeyer

Students at Grand Valley State University are coming up on the final stretch of the semester, with summer vacation nearly visible on the horizon. However, with fewer responsibilities, it’s easy to get irresponsible and saving cash over the summer can become a struggle. So how can students manage money in between loan cycles?

Michelle Rhodes, director of GVSU’s Financial Aid Office, said planning ahead and preparing for summer expenses should be a priority for students.

“Whether it’s study abroad, moving back home, working full time instead of part-time, or going to school, etc. … or a combination of these things,” Rhodes said.

For those students staying enrolling in spring/summer semesters, Rhodes said being careful to only take out as many loans as you need over the summer will be important in the long-term; and the rule applies not only to spring/summer semesters, but year-round.

She said each students’ situation is unique when it comes to managing loans, but students who need a little bit of guidance are encouraged to contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss their options for each individual’s specific case.

“If they can work to pay for some of their expenses and don’t have to take out all of the loans they are offered, that can be one way to manage student loan debt,” Rhodes said.

In the 2011-12 data set collected by GVSU’s Institutional Analysis, the average “per-undergraduate-borrower cumulative principal borrowed” averages at $26,912. This number applies to first-time undergraduates who received a bachelor’s degree from GVSU between July 1, 2010, and June 20, 2011, and who borrowed at any time during their enrollment at GVSU, including institutional, state, Federal Perkins, Federal Stafford (subsidized and unsubsidized), institution-certified private loans, Federal District Student loans and Federal Family Education loans.

Rhodes said paying attention to how much in loans you are taking out is important not only because post-graduation debt can be a burden to pay off, but also because students do have a limit to how much money in loans they can take out.

“Once again, I think all student situations are different,” Rhodes said. “The Financial Aid Office is happy to discuss the options with each individual student. It’s good now to also think about planning for next academic year.”

To find more information on loan limits, visit www.gvsu.edu/financialaid/student-loans-83.htm.

To talk with a financial aid representative, contact the Financial Aid Office at 616-331-3234 or by email at [email protected].