$1,407,200,000,000. That is the current total of student loan debt in this nation. Trillions of dollars are weighing down on over 70 percent of college students and graduates. Over 15 percent of those have either defaulted or have been delinquent in repaying their loans. Seven out of 10 college students admit that their personal finances cause stress or worry.
Even when I was going through school, this was a concern. In fact, while earning my undergraduate degree, I made the decision to join the Army National Guard, partly in order to lift some of that burden. Now, as the average debt per student borrower is approaching $28,000, there is no doubt that we need to work to address this issue.
Aside from the negative affects on the individual, the staggering student loan crisis has an impact on our nation’s overall economy. According to a Gallup poll, one in five recent graduates says that they are hesitant to start a new business because of their student debt. Debt is hindering the potential of our nation’s greatest resource: the next generation.
For my constituents that are still pursuing their degrees, or who are recent graduates, I know that this is a particularly stressful problem as they often find themselves in difficult financial situations with student loans and entry level jobs. Student loan debt can be a major obstacle in building a solid financial future.
April is Financial Literacy Month, and as co-Chair of the Financial Literacy Caucus, I am committed to encouraging financial literacy among students, while finding ways to help relieve some of this debt.
I will soon introduce legislation that will help this portion of the population by making it easier for employers to provide student loan programs and increase the amount employers can offer. My legislation will also increase the amount that can be deducted by borrowers on their interest paid.
This is just one small step, but I am committed to working with my colleagues to help alleviate this problem. I also wanted to highlight some resources that are available to students attending the colleges or universities in the 15th District. These on-campus resources can help you take the first steps towards financial wellness.
If you are a Buckeye, consider making an appointment with Scarlet and Grey Financial. Their peer coaches can help provide you more information about debt repayment, as well as financial goal setting and budgeting.
For the Bobcats, Ohio University’s Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships provides a great resource, GradReady. The online platform provides informational videos and activities to help you manage your finances and set you up for financial success.
Ohio Christian University also offers online resources, and has launched Financial Aid TV (FATV). FATV is a 24-hour online library that includes videos on topics like FASFA, financial literacy, loans and grants, and military benefits.
Lastly, if you are a student at Wilmington College, consider stopping by the Student One Stop Center. Their full time staffers are eager to help you with FAFSFA, loan applications, or entrance or exit loan counseling.
For students and recent graduates, improving financial literacy and economic education is crucial. An understanding of financial decisions can make a huge difference as they enter the workforce and begin to build a successful future, and student debt should not stand in their way.
If you, or someone you know, is having difficulty with student loans, please feel free to contact me in my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-2015, my Lancaster office at (740) 654-2654, my Hilliard office at (614) 771-4968, or my Wilmington office at (937) 283-7049. I also encourage you to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and through my e-newsletter at www.stivers.house.gov.