More Students Taking Out Loans for College

More Students Taking Out Loans for College

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Tonya Papanikolas Reporting A national study finds U.S. college students are taking on record levels of student loans, and it's no different in Utah. The financial aid director at the U says he's seen a steady increase in the past several years, both in the number of students needing loans and the amount they're taking out.

Going to college can certainly put a strain on a student's pocketbook. As tuition has risen, so has the number of students taking out loans.

James Broderick, Univ. of Utah Student: I'm going to see if I can get another loan. I'm married and I have a little son, and just to make ends meet and do well in school, we need a little extra money."

A study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research finds that nearly two-thirds of college students are taking on loans, accumulating an average debt over 17-thousand-dollars. At the University of Utah, that number is a little lower. About 41-percent of students here will be paying back their loaned tuition.

John Curl, U of U Financial Aid & Scholarships Director: "We're a little bit under 12-thousand average debt for an undergraduate student."

Sara G. Larsen, Univ. of Utah Graduate: "I think a lot of folks cannot actually go to school on today's tuition without taking out a student loan or working full time and just going to school part-time."

Nationally, the cost of going to college has risen over 50% since 1990, and loans now make up more than half of financial aid packages. Federal and state governments have limited grants, so students are looking for more ways to pay for college. And federal loans may not meet all their needs so more and more students are finding either private or unsubsidized loans, which accrue interest during school.

John Curl: "I think you can certainly see a trend in the unsubsidized borrowing over the subsidized."

While that just adds to the debt, some students are looking at the positives.

James Broderick: "I think if I choose a good major and get right out there in the work field, I'll be able to pay it off quick."

Experts say it's an issue that won't be going away any time soon.

Higher levels of debt can have implications on post-college life. Some graduates may choose to postpone marriage, buying a house or starting a family while they pay off their loans.

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