Student loan debt weighs on Ohio State students as they arrive to campus


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Most students who graduate from an Ohio college will leave with more than a diploma — they'll also leave with a student loan debt of more than $30,000.

The average student loan for incoming freshman at Ohio State is about $6,000.

Ohio State students Brenna Hess, a sophomore from Illinois studying finance, and Kendra Asiedu, a Junior from Westerville studying international studies and pre-med said student loan debt is a constant worry.

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"It keeps me awake a night," Hess said.

So, how much will they owe when they graduate? Hess estimated approximately $30,000-$35,000.

Asiedu says her tally will be about $20,000 a year.

Hess and Asiedu both hold down jobs while going to school. They say it's the only way they afford to pay back what they owe.

"It does keep me up at night. Maybe I should pick up that extra shift at work now just so I can start paying off those loans," Hess says.

Nationally, 10.7% of people with college loans are, on average, 90 days delinquent on their loan payments.

A student is considered to be in default on a student loan if they have not made a payment in more than 270 days.

The official student loan default rate for a school is calculated by measuring how many students are in default three years after graduation. Note that the default rate only takes into account federal loans, not private.

So if you have a $5,500 loan that earns 6.8% interest, you would owe $310 a month in interest payments.

Over four years of failing to pay that interest would cost you an additional $1,500.00.

Both Hess and Aseidu say they try to not let the stress of student loans impact their college experience but it's hard not to.

"It's stressful. I catch myself not going to some events so I can work," says Hess.

Both know finding a job immediately following graduation is crucial so they don't fall behind on their payments.

"It's overbearing that I have to get a job to pay this off in six months," says Asiedu.

The Ohio State University released a statement to 10TV regarding ways its working to reduce the burden of debt for students:

"President Drake has prioritized making an Ohio State education more affordable in ways that help reduce the debt burden on students. This academic year, the university is investing $45 million in ADDITIONAL need-based aid through our affordability grant program, expanded Land Grant Opportunity Scholarships and the Buckeye Opportunity Program. With this year’s investment, the university has committed more than $150 million in additional need-based aid since 2015."

There are ways to reduce your student loan debt: Enroll in a community college, which is less expensive and if you can live at home, you'll save even more money. Start working before you step foot on campus. If you do need take out a loan, use a federal loan that has lower interest rates to save money.

Tips to Save For College:

  • Ohio parents who open a CollegeAdvantage — Ohio 529 Plan account, Ohio‘s college savings plan, enjoy the benefit of federal and state tax-free growth on the money they save as well as up to a $4,000 State of Ohio tax deduction for each beneficiary.
  • Only borrow what you have to. Just because your FASFA allows you to borrow money doesn't mean you have to take out all of the money you are allotted. Be mindful of accruing interest and consider only accepting a loan for the money you actually need.
  • Loan consolidation is an option if you have multiple federal loans. After you leave school, you may consider combining all of your loans into a single loan with one loan servicer. This option can make it easier for you to organize and track payments since you are only making one monthly payment to one loan servicer, rather than multiple monthly payments to multiple servicers.

More tips can be found here.