Know before you loan, students

By Ryan Egan
Flapjack Chronicle

Students are accumulating tens of thousands of dollars in debt because of rising tuition costs at Humboldt State University. Most students depend on financial aid to help them get through college, some are applying for loans that net them thousands of dollars in debt that can potentially take years to pay off. Students at Humboldt State University are quite aware of the costs of taking out loans, and some have avoided them altogether.

HSU music education major Lauren Strella, 20, is reluctant to take out loans for fear of accumulating overwhelming debt.

“Avoid getting student loans at all costs,” Strella said.

Environmental management major Rachel Cooke, 24, has managed to stay debt free without taking any student loans. Cooke believes that some students have a hard time grasping the concept of debt while in school, but that it is still possible to stay debt free.

“There needs to be more education on debt management in school,” Cooke said. “Most kids don’t know enough about how to handle debt effectively and not be buried by it.”

Students who go years without applying but then decide to apply later in their college career run the risk of not being eligible for receiving student loans. Vocalist Jo Kuzelka, 30, had to take a semester off from Humboldt State University because she was denied student loans.

“I took a while to get through community college and didn’t take advantage of student loans until I reached university level thinking it would get me through,” Kuzelka said. “Regardless of my financial need they refused to help me past year two because of the unit cap. That doesn’t seem fair now does it?”

Humboldt State University Financial Aid Specialist Karen Schaal advises students to plan ahead and receive loan counseling before taking out a student loan.

“The best advice to give any student who is considering borrowing student loans is to figure out their budget,” Schaal said. “Students should only borrow what they need and not the maximum amount offered if not needed. If students need help, I would recommend they come into our office and speak to a financial aid counselor for assistance. Students should learn more about loans before borrowing like repayment terms, conditions of loans, etc. All students must complete entrance loan counseling before receiving a loan. The entrance counseling provides a wealth of information. Also, the terms and conditions of student loans are better than alternative or private loans for school and have better repayment terms and interest rates under most conditions.”

Before taking out a student loan, plan ahead with a budget in mind and take advantage of the counseling offered from the financial aid department, otherwise you may be dead in the water after graduating or run the risk of not graduating on time. Learning to deal with your debt now will save you from much frustration and financial strains in the future.

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