Students go into debt over loans

After four or more years of going to class and finally receiving a degree, many students are faced with large debts after taking out loans.

Some students take out loans and have either the option of paying it back themselves or their parents paying it back for them.

But Mercedes Lawson, sophomore, does not have that option.

“I don’t have the luxury of asking my parents to pay back my loans because they don’t have jobs,” Lawson said. “All my loans are in my name, so it is my responsibility to pay the money back.”

Lawson had to take out three loans this year in order to pay for her tuition and room and board, which totaled up to $7,000.

“I am so stressed knowing that I have to take out $7,000 each year until I graduate in December of 2009,” Lawson said. “I’m already an 18-year-old in debt.”

By graduation, Lawson said she will have a Bachelor’s in Science degree, along with a debt of $21,000 in loans plus interest.

“Sometimes I go through emotional stress because I can’t help but to worry, ‘How am I going to pay all this money back that I don’t even have now?'” Lawson said.

She not only will have to pay back her undergraduate loans, but will then have to take out loans for medical school for another four years.

“I want to be a cardiovascular surgeon, so I have to go to medical school, which is an estimate of $30,000 a year that I have to take out in loans,” Lawson said.

When Lawson is finally finished with medical school she will be in debt of an estimation of $141,000 plus interest.

Lawson said she does not take school for granted because she is paying for her own way, which can be stressful at times when she tries to stay focused.

“Every time I leave BG and go home I have a bill, in my name, sitting on the table stating that I owe interest on my loans,” Lawson said. “And more stress is added on me.”

Lawson said on average her interest bill is $18 a month, in which she started to pay in December of 2006.

“My last bill was $90 because I only go home so often and that’s when I get a chance to see my bill and then pay it,” Lawson said.

Unlike some students, Lawson wanted to start early paying off her interest fees.

“To be honest, the interest fees is what kills you,” she said. “So the more you pay back, the less you have to pay back at the end.”

Lawson said it is important for students to go to financial aid planning classes so they will know their responsibility of paying back loans and how.

“All students need a financial planning class for a general awareness,” she said. “Also, students should know that taking out unnecessary amounts of loans is a bad move that puts you more in debt.”

Students need financial planning and to avoid taking out loans if possible, said Denise Grigson, student loan collection manager in the Office of the Bursar.

“In some cases students chose to take out more loans than necessary,” she said. “It’s tempting to use the extra money leftover from a loan and use it elsewhere such as on clothes.”

Also Grigson said it would be nice to have a course, such as financial planning, to assist students financially.

“When I started school, I knew if I borrowed money I had to pay it back,” Grigson said. “Now maybe some students don’t understand that because they have their parents to pay it back for them.”

According to, an entry-level job Web site, 51 percent of student loan recipients said it will take them more than 10 years to pay off loans.

That figure is unfortunate for students, Grigson said.

“It’s an emotional and financial burden on the students,” she said.

In some cases it could take students up to 20 years to pay back loans because it is difficult to maintain a standard of living, according to Grigson.

“I think it’s unfortunate and disappointing about these facts because it could prevent students from attending or finishing college, due to a financial burden,” she said.

But the advice Grigson has for students is to pay attention to loan agreements.

“It’s very important, when signing a promissory note, to know who you borrowed from, what you borrowed for, how much you borrowed and understand the terms to your financial responsibility,” she said.

In addition, Grigson said to keep in contact with the lender.

“Students shouldn’t be embarrassed to call a lender and tell them their situation,” Grigson said. “It’s our obligation to help prevent the student from being put in the collection agency’s file.”