How to help yourself from student debt

Students that don’t receive scholarships end up taking out loans, which in turn puts students in massive amounts of debt before they even graduate.

Ashley White


For many college students finding a way to pay for college is difficult. Students that don’t receive scholarships end up taking out loans, which in turn puts students in massive amounts of debt before they even graduate.

Mason Cumm, an Oswego State junior, is currently $15,000 in debt from taking out student loans each year of college. He is currently thinking of how he’s going to pay off his debt after graduation. “I’m a business administrative major so I’m hoping that will land me a job that can help me pay for my loans,” Cumm said. “Just to be sure I can pay my debt off I’m joining the Army Reserves to help me out financially.”

According the Institute For College and Success “ Seven in 10 seniors (69%) who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2014 had student loan debt, with an average of $28,950 per borrower. Over the last decade — from 2004 to 2014 — the share of graduates with debt rose modestly (from 65% to 69%) while average debt at graduation rose at more than twice the rate of inflation.”

The total annual cost to attend Oswego State is about $21,000. According to low income students that receive financial aid pay about $10,000 per year, making the discount 53 percent. At graduation the median federal debt for all students is $23,000 and for Pell grant students is about $20,000.

13 percent of Oswego State graduates don’t pay off their student loans three years after they graduate. The non-payment rate for Pell grant students is even more, 17 percent.

The government offers repayment plans for students after graduation. According to, there are seven repayment plans available for people to pay off their loans. The Standard Repayment Plan, the Graduated, the Extended, Income based, Pay As You Earn, Income Contingent, and the Income Sensitive plan.

Along with loans, students can apply for grants and scholarships to help them pay for school. There are federal and state grants that students can apply for. Many federal grants are available for students which are based on need. The first thing students need to do is fill out their fafsa.

According to Hoffman, the federal government puts all of the information that a student list on the fafsa through a complicated algorithm to determine the expected family contribution. In turn the expected family contribution will determine their eligibility for federal financial aid including federal grants. The federal grants include the Pell grant, the SEOG (supplemental educational opportunity grant) and the teach grant. The teach grant is for future teachers that are going into high need areas like math, science, and foreign language.

The teach grant is the only federal grant that isn’t need specific, it is specifically merit based. To receive the teach grant the student has to have fairly high SAT scores, be in the 75 percentile and to keep receiving the grant throughout their college years, keep above a 3.25 GPA.

State grants are also available for students in need. New York State offers the TAP award, which is based off of the students net taxable income.

Scholarships help students immensely with paying for college, before they have to take out any loans.

Joanna McIntyre, another Oswego State junior, receives many scholarships the help her pay for her education. “I’m very grateful that I receive the scholarships that I do because I don’t want to have to take out as many loans and be in debt for my education,” McIntyre said.

“We at SUNY Oswego offer ranging scholarships based merit from a $750 award up to a $4,700 award for the Presidential scholarship,” Hoffman said. “We also have departmental awards that are administered by the Alumni and Development office.”

Even if a student applies for loans, grants, and scholarships it is still difficult to pay for an education depending on their financial situation. Some parents start saving when students are at a very young age so their child doesn’t have to be subjected to student debt. Christina Russell, a parent of a Oswego State student shares her experience with saving money for her daughter.

Student debt is something that is on many college students minds and something that they will have to worry about for years to come, but there are ways that can prevent students from receiving more debt than they need.