Student loans allow some without means to go to college
Published: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 23:05
The opportunity to go to college is not available for all people in the United States. With the help of student loans people who are not normally able afford to attend college are given the chance to improve their education.
According to the East Tennessee State University Fact Book, 12,574 students received financial aid for the 2010-11 school year.
“Probably about 45 percent of our students get student loans,” said Lisa Bell, assistant director of client services in the Financial Aid Office. She said the average amount a student owes at graduation graduate ETSU is $18,000 which is compared to the national average of $25,000.
Even though student loans can be helpful people express concern. Bell said student loans were positive because it is the only way some students could get an education. Some students do not get the job they think they will when they graduate. In return it makes it hard for students to pay off their loans.
“A positive would be that students could go to school and not have to worry about money while they were in school,” said Keely Hawkins, 19, of Johnson City, “but they might be dealing with the stress of having to pay them back later.” Hawkins is a sophomore at ETSU and has never taken out a student loan.
Bell worries about students being stressed when trying to pay back loans when they graduate.
“There are a lot of students that don’t get the jobs that they assume they are going to get when they graduate,” said Bell. “It’s hard to pay back the loans because the jobs aren’t available like they used to be and its harder for students to pay them back because the jobs they do get are just not paying as much as they used to pay.”
Aaron Hodge, 24, of Johnson City, is not worried about paying his student loans, “Hopefully I will get a job in the field I am going to school for,” said Hodge. He currently has two jobs but has not started making payments on his loans. He applied for a student loan because he could not afford to pay for school on his own and he does not receive help from his parents.
“I only take out the minimum amount I need to pay for school,” said Hodge.
There are some requirements that you have to maintain in order to keep a loan. A student must pass 67 percent of their classes. Students are also required to be taking at least six hours, if a student fails to take at least six hours or they quit school they must start paying on their student loans in six months. In order to apply for a student loan students are only required to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, which is available online.
“I did not have any problems while applying for my student loan,” said Hodge. “It was actually a fairly easy process.” He said it takes about 15 minutes to fill out Free Application for Federal Student Aid and students only have to fill it out one time a year. Hodge took out his first student loan when he was a sophomore at ETSU.
“My parents help me pay for school and they would just rather not take out student loans if it is not needed,” said Hawkins. She said it would be risky to take out a student loan because of the current job market, and wishes students were allowed to wait and not start paying loans for a longer period of time after graduation, especially with the economy now.
Hodge has had a pleasant experience with student loans. “If you have trouble paying for college, or you don’t think you can handle going to school and maintaining a job at the same time, student loans are something you should look into,” Hodge said.
“My advice would just be to make sure you are only taking out what you need to pay for school so you don’t find yourself in trouble when you graduate.”