09/05/2008 - As of this week, hundreds of thousands of young men and women have taken their first big step on the road to financial adulthood: They’re now on the hook for their first student loan.
No one trains college freshmen for this moment. It’s not part of the standard high school curriculum, and most parents don’t know enough about the process to pass on much wisdom. If they went to college, it was probably back in the day when most undergraduate degrees did not leave people with five figures of debt and multiple types of loans.
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While it may be too late to halt your loan for this year, the falling rates suggest that you should try as hard as you can to borrow as little as possible until later in your undergraduate education. Perhaps there’s a relative who can help with a loan until then, or you can work a few more hours at a paid job.
[ ]That said, don’t work too much. Robert Shireman, executive director of the nonprofit Project on Student Debt, said that some students, in an effort to keep their loans a bit lower, work 30 hours a week and take a full-time course load. Inevitably, some can’t handle the pressure and drop out. “You end up in an even worse situation,” he said. “Not only do you not have a degree but you have debt on top of it.”
Read the full article Counseling on Student Loans Now May Ease Pain Later on the New York Times' Web site.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, visit the Project on Student Debt Web site or visit the The Project on Student Debt on PewHealth.org.