By Seth Morin
The time is quickly approaching for seniors to evaluate the debt they’ve accumulated after four years of college.
Last year’s class averaged a $32,451 in debt, Director of Financial Aid Elizabeth Sappenfield said.
Compared to surrounding schools, this is higher with the exception of Rose-Hulman, where the average student debt is $42,000.
Hanover averages $26,448 and Ball State $26,824, according to CollegeFactual.com.
Indiana as a state averages $28,466 in student debt and the national average is $28,400, according to USNews.com.
“The majority of loans that students take out are federal Stafford loans,” Sappenfield said. “Those are the basic ones.”
Additionally, loans would include private loans and any other loans taken out by parents.
“But the parent loans are not included in the student debt because that is not ‘student debt’,” Sappenfield said.
And Greek fees are not incorporated.
Senior Emma Peavey, a member of Delta Delta Delta, said being a member of a Greek organization has not had much of an impact on her student debt.
“The fees have been manageable and the added benefits of belonging to a sorority, like networking, will pay off later,” Peavey said.
She also believes the price Franklin College students have to pay is worth it.
“The price is worth it not only because I qualify to have a higher salary but also because of the opportunities I have had while attending Franklin,” she said.
Senior Jeremy Reed said he is just under $40,000 in debt and expects it to be higher as he plans to attend medical school.
“Debt has its benefits because it represents what you want to do in your life,” Reed said. “But sometimes I believe that the amount of debt can be too stressful to deal with.”
Sappenfield said the amount a student owes should not come as a surprise.
“You receive a packet that tells you how much you have borrowed and how much you owe,” Snappenfield said.
Students can also view their financial aid information on the college’s website under the admissions tab.
Sappenfield said students and parents need to keep track of how much they will owe overall, not just per semester.
“Students and families tend to look at it by semester, but I think it’s very important that they keep track of it overall,” she said. “You can stay up on that information via our system and the NSLDS (National Student Loan Data System). It gives students all of the information as to what loans they’ve borrowed, what rates they’re at, and what servicer they have.”
Students will receive bills from servicers because the Department of Education contracts with servicers that send out the bills.
“Those are the folks that would help you select which payment option is the best in your situation, with most options being 10-year payments,” Sappenfield said.
Students will not be required to pay immediately following graduation. There will be a six-month grace period to give graduates some time to get back on their feet.
Sappenfield said graduates will be offered several different payment plans and suggests to pay more money sooner if possible.
“If you can pay more, do it,” she said. “Because if you pay less in the beginning, the bills will be larger at the end.”
One of the major issues that students could run into while repaying is not having the ability to pay and, thus, defaulting on their loans.
Statistics have been taken to record how many students have defaulted within three years of graduation. The information includes all students – graduates and withdrawals – that have started repaying their loans.
The national average of students defaulting on their loans is 13 percent, with Franklin College far below the average at just three percent.
“It’s a measure of whether or not they will be able to ever pay their loans back,” Sappenfield said. “This really plays into our curriculum and career services and shows that, even though our students are borrowing, they are able to pay them back.”