SDSU averages lower student debt

By Sara Bertsch Lifestyles Editor

Mounds of debt getting you down? Not at SDSU. Students should no longer fear having a poor quality of life because of student loans.

In an article by the Wall Street Journal, they found that those who borrow more than $25,000 in student loans have a decreased quality of life.

According to Carolyn Halgerson, the director of financial aid, SDSU’s average loan at graduation for students acquiring an undergraduate degree is $23,183. That is nearly $2,000 less than the supposed amount that decreases quality of life. The national average is around $25,500 according to the Institute for College Access & Success.

Another important statistic that SDSU displays is the Cohort Default Rate. This is the rate that looks at the amount of students that defaulted within three years of repayment. SDSU boasts a low rate of 4.2 percent while the national average is almost 10 percent.

“It’s awesome although it’s not uncommon for four-year public schools to have low default rates. It [SDSU’s Cohort Default Rate] did go down from last year,” Halgerson said.

In order to pay for college, a majority of students at all institutions take out loans. At SDSU, the amount of students that take out federal loans are between 75 and 80 percent. The national average is 66 percent. That is nearly 10 percent less than SDSU.

“I’m not surprised that more of our students are borrowing, but borrowing less money,” Halgerson said. “I think that’s encouraging. Students are being cautious and buying just what they need and not taking what’s out there.”

Halgerson finds that they are many options to help students pay back these loans, it’s just a matter of students asking for help. Students can easily find help on campus. They won’t need to worry about their quality of life just because of some loans.

“If they have trouble, they need to reach out and ask. I don’t think the average student is going to have to make major life decisions based on the average loan.”

When students turn to credit cards for help, that’s when the problem arises. Halgerson refers to credit cards as ‘dangerous piece of plastic.’

Halgerson suggests that credit cards be used for emergency if anything. If students do have credit cards, they shouldn’t charge more than they can pay off at the end of the month.

“Every student should be required to take a personal finance class because now you are ready to hear it,” Halgerson said.

The financial aid office has now moved to the new Enrollment Services Center. They can help lead graduated students to where they need to go for loan information. The office generally helps current students through the application process and completing the required forms.

They have four financial aid counselors and several other members on staff to answer student’s questions. They help students understand how much they need to borrow.

“Budgeting is a big thing,” Halgerson said. “If you can borrow less, that’s less you have to pay back.”

Many students don’t fully understand the implications of borrowing. In turn, this reflects their overall borrowing and spending. With the help of financial aid, they can learn about borrowing money and learn how to deal with money crunches. Students should also look to their family for help dealing with loans and all of the information

“This is a family decision. I stress that a lot,” Halgerson said. “We’re asking 18-year-old students to make big decisions.”

Whether a link between student debt and quality of life can be scientifically proven, there’s no need for students to worry about debt as long as they use the resources that campus provides.