Raleigh, N.C. Area college students received free help Friday on how to deal with student loan debt during an event at Shaw University.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and Shaw President Tashni-Ann Dubroy discussed topics such as ways to avoid getting loans, how to pay off loans as soon as possible, the salary needed to pay off loans and how to find low-interest loans.
“She was telling me about potentially working for nonprofits or working for entities where you can actually serve the government and give back and actually having your loans forgiven,” said Blaike Bibbs, a junior at North Carolina State University.
But Stein had a warning for students.
“Going to college is a wonderful investment, but it’s one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, and if you are not smart about it, if you take out too big a loan, you’ll find when you get out of college you are behind the eight ball, and you can’t earn enough to pay off your loan as well as your car loan, your rent, your mortgage, whatever you have,” he said.
Experts said the key is to be conscious of how much debt is racking up.
“I think one of the biggest mistakes is that they go to school and they use their loans to pay off their food, their apartments and things like that while they are going to school,” said Carol Silva-Paniagua, with Triangle Family Services.
Also on Friday, Stein announced a new tool on his website to provide information about safely paying for college.
This website feature – with sections for students in high school who are applying for college, current college students and graduates who are now paying off their loans – includes information and tips for each stage of the process.
“As your attorney general, I can’t change the price of college or how we finance higher education,” Stein said. “But I can and will fight for you if you’re cheated, unfairly targeted or misled. And I will work to make sure you have the information you need to make a smart financial decision about your college investment.”