Students across America, including Dixie State University students, are currently taking out student loans in order to pay for the time they spend enrolled in college.
Students must learn how to manage their debt, financial aid adviser Roberta Cole said. They have to decide early to only borrow to pay for school expenses rather than to maintain their desired lifestyle.
The national maximum amount of money that can be borrowed in undergraduate student loans is $57,500, Cole said.
Steps can be taken to ensure that students have the least amount of debt possible once graduation is upon them.
Cole said staying entirely debt free may not be possible for all students, but keeping educational debt manageable is.
Cole said when considering what area of study you are going to major in, look into the job market and make sure that you will be able to find a job upon graduating. Just because a major is offered, does not mean there is a job market for that field of study.
Find out what the beginning salary is of the job you are working toward, Cole said. Will your beginning salary be able to pay for the debt you’ve acquired while in school? If the beginning salary of your desired career is $30,000 and your debt is $57,500, there could be problems in paying it off.
“Borrowing loans so that a student doesn’t have to work is the first thing I caution against,” Cole said.
She said not only have studies proven that students who have a part-time job, working 15-20 hours weekly,perform better academically, but it also means they have to borrow less.
Working while in school also makes students more appealing to employers after graduating.
“In the world today, you have to have real work experience so when you are done with school, you are marketable,” said J.D. Robertson, executive director of financial aid.
Cole said when students work while in school, it shows they have a strong work ethic, which employers like.
“Being aware and not afraid of hard work has helped to keep my student debt manageable,” said Breanna Orullian, a senior communication major from Murray. “I don’t think a job has had a positive or negative effect on my grades, I just know that I need the money. Having a job is just a necessary activity.”
One way of staying debt free, or closer to it, is applying for scholarships.
Cole said if students don’t have the grades coming out of high school to apply for scholarships, Dixie State University does offer continuing student scholarships. The scholarships require that you have obtained 30 credits from DSU.
Currently, students are required to have a 3.3 GPA to apply for the continuing student scholarship, Robertson said. The amounts of the scholarships offered change yearly, but students can find those amounts on the DSU website under the financial aid and scholarship tab.
Students interested in applying need to apply by spring in order to receive a scholarship the next fall semester, Cole said. Applications must be submitted by April 30, 2015.
Financial aid advisers
Students can also go to the financial aid department location on the first floor of the Holland Centennial Commons building to receive guidance in their financial decision.
“I had one of the counselors in the financial aid department help me apply for my pell grant,” said Nordell Erickson, a senior communication major from St. George. “He is really helpful. In fact, he helps me each year when I reapply.”
The financial aid department could advertise like the career center, Orullian said. The career center is constantly going around and informing students that they can help create resumes and portfolios. The financial aid department should be more open in sharing exactly what they can help students with.
“I knew there were financial aid advisers on campus, but I didn’t know they actually helped students apply for loans and things like that,” Orullian said.
Be a full-time student
Tuition costs at DSU plateau at 12-20 credits, which means that tuition costs the same in that interval of credits, Robertson said.
He said each semester that students who are Utah residents are in school at DSU costs about $6,000. That total includes housing, food, transportation, personal items, tuition and fees and books.
Current tuition for a full-time DSU student from Utah is $1,897.00. Fees for students with those demographics total to $331.00. The combined total of residential tuition and student fees is $2,228.00.
Cole said in order to decreases costs and acquiring debt, students should be taking at least 15 credits each semester instead of taking 6-8 credits while borrowing the yearly maximum in loans.
“Our goal is to make sure that students are actually earning those four-year degrees in four years,” Robertson said.
He said there has to be a balance of work, school, studying and social life. Students need to take the time to find that balance and establish how much time they will need to devote to studying in order to get good grades.