By Sergio A. Lagunas @SALagunas
There are students who are granted the maximum possible grant aid available at their university with the help of federal grants, state grants, university grants and scholarships. Even then, students may not have all of their educational expenses covered for their academic year. There is a economical fear of taking out loans because we are told by our teachers, professors, and supervisors at work that they are still paying back their students loans. Even the 44th President of the United States of America shared that his student loans were recently paid in 2004. According to Yahoo News, President Barrack Obama finished paying his student loan debt about eight years before his re-election in 2012.
When I was an undergraduate at UC Santa Barbara, I only had the option for paying tuition fees using federal loans. I did not meet the requirements to receive grant aid, and I had to take out the maximum amount of federal student loans available. I worked 20 hours a week to cover rent and food. Currently, I owe over $75,000.00! This amount is a combination of subsidized, unsubsidized, and grad school unsubsidized student loans.
SOURCE: How much can I borrow? studentaid.ed.gov, 2017
According to StudentAid.gov undergraduate students and graduate students have a limit to how much they can borrow each year they are in college. A dependent undergraduate student can get a maximum $31,000.00 of combined federal student loans (subsidized and unsubsidized), and dependent undergraduate students can only get up to $23,000.00 in subsidized federal student loans. (See chart for details)
It is always best not to take out student loans, and it is not a bad thing to use them when you need them the most. My car was stolen when I attended graduate school, and I was able to use student loans to buy a new car. If I did not have the option of student loans at the time, I would have had to take out a car loan at a high interest rate.
There are plenty of resources at universities now, where students can get help with housing, food, and other student needs. As a first-generation college graduate, I know all about the struggle of navigating the journey of higher education. And, now as a higher education professional, I am able to help students that may be experiencing similar challenges that I had to overcome on my own.
Taking out a federal student loan is not always the best choice you have to make; however, a student loan is not the worst idea out there. Loans can be helpful, and many students like myself have used student loans as a solution to determine whether to drop out of college or stay and finish a college degree. I am grateful for the hardships I had to overcome, and while I am paying off my student loans today, I am proud of completing a BA in English and a MA in Higher Education Leadership. I will pay back my student loans, and I will become the successful person that I want to become.
For more information regarding federal student loans, please visit the government website: studentloans.gov