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Dec 01, 2016 08:20 AM EST

College-Bound Students Need Better Counseling Before Making Educational Loans

College students celebrating their graduation day
College-bound students need to receive better counseling before getting a student loan, or else they will end up with a huge amount of student debt upon graduating, says an expert.
(Photo : Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Student loans that are aimed at financing a college education has been dubbed "good debt," but many students find themselves facing an insurmountable debt problem after school. Worse, some of these students don't even graduate, and some of them have degrees that don't pay off enough.

"The problem of students blindly borrowing large amounts they will struggle to repay in search of college credentials (frequently of questionable value) remains unsolved," George Leef, director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, says.

The problem, Leef says, is that college-bound students who apply for loans to fund their higher education are not given proper counseling that will guide them to making the right decisions, weighing the pros and cons of student loans versus college degrees and profitability.

As an example, Leef cited a Pope Center article published nearly six years ago, written by a certain graduate of Northeastern University named Kelli Space. She left the institution carrying with her a B.A. major in Sociology, and a student debt amounting to more than $200,000.

"Looking back I wish someone had brought me back down to Earth by asking the right questions: What is 'good debt' to an 18-year-old? Do you have any idea what the cost of repaying your loans will be? How will those payments compare with your anticipated income?" Space wrote in the article.

There are many other students like Space, who pursued a college degree without knowing the dangers of going deep in student debt. Currently, the total amount of student debt across the nation has reached a staggering estimate of $1.26 trillion, and according to a report, the average debt of all undergraduates, including those who did not take any student loans, is around $16,929 per student.

"Students should be encouraged to ponder the high rates of underemployment among recent graduates, loan default rates, and postsecondary options other than college that may give them better results at lower cost," Leef continues. "The government ... should do more to make students aware that college debt can be hazardous."

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