Colleges and Debtors Find Creative Ways to Tackle Student Loan Debt
By Kathryn Knight Randolph
March 17, 2017
You know there is a legitimate problem when an issue has the word “crisis” adhered to the name – like the student loan debt crisis. Currently, the national student loan debt clock sits at just under $1.5 trillion, which accounts for the nearly 40 million Americans that currently have student loan debt of some kind as reported by MarketWatch.
However, student debtors and colleges alike are working to alleviate the problem with some creative solutions. As you tackle student loan debt, take a cue from these institutions and individuals.
Yahoo compiled a list of colleges doing great work to help students face the realities of student debt as well as pay it off efficiently and effectively. Indiana University sends students a letter every fall that details how much federal debt students owe with each passing year in addition to their future monthly loan payment. The institution also provides free financial counseling to students before they leave, from undergraduate to professional degree programs. Since issuing the letters, IU has seen a 12.4% decrease in student borrowing, according to Yahoo.
Western Governors University helps students eliminate student debt from the start. They provide varying suggested loan amounts for students to help cover the remaining cost of attendance once grants and scholarships have been figured. A WGU spokesperson told Yahoo that most students opt for the lower loan amount and that borrowing has decreased by 29% per student.
Northwestern University now offers law school graduates student loan interest rate forgiveness if students haven’t found a job a year after graduation or if they make less than $85,000 a year in the private sector. Finally, the University of Illinois is offering current students financial and budget literacy programs in order to prevent them from dropping out for financial reasons. Since the programs’ start, the University has seen a 14% decrease in students dropping out because of financial reasons, according to Yahoo.
But colleges and universities aren’t the only ones working hard to tackle student loan debt creatively. U.S. News reported on a family that saved all of the $5 bills they came across each month. At the end of each month, they would use the $5 bill jar to make an extra student loan payment. Another option U.S. News reports on is SponsorChange, a website that helps debtors find community service opportunities in exchange for student loan repayment.
Finally, U.S. News suggests making two student loan payments each month. The first can be the entire monthly payment, while the other can be half of a payment. In 12 months’ time, borrowers will have made 18 monthly payments in one year. Other borrowers have opted to move back in with parents to live rent-free, spend absolutely nothing outside of basic necessities for a year or two or take on multiple jobs.
The average amount of student loan debt that borrowers graduate with is $30,000. That amount of debt can last for decades, influence later life choices like buying a home or starting a family, and affect saving for retirement. With that, borrowers have to find ways to tackle the student loan debt crisis. And now that universities are jumping on board, student borrowers are not alone.