Intisar Faulkner, Ozarks News Brief

SPRINGFIELD – Applying for scholarships, university based grants, and filling out the FAFSA. All help account for the expenses of secondary education.

However a majority of college students have to do the one thing parents may fear the most, accept student loans. While some students find them to be a life saver, others find them frightening.

But what may be even more of a nightmare, is paying for those loans after grabbing that degree. Joe Stokes, President and CEO of Consumer Credit Counseling Service says ,” Most graduates think once they get their first job they can pay off their student loans very quickly and it doesn’t work that way. Especially if the individual is a newlywed or starting a family, it becomes very difficult to pay off loans as well as other expenses.”

Consumer Credit Counseling Service does charge a small fee for student loan counseling, but haven’t had much luck with customers.

The average amount for student loans in Missouri is about $30,000. With Missouri State at just above $25,000 and Drury at $24,332. However, Evangel University is over the state average at $35,000.

Students say even after loans, they still have money they pay out of pocket and couldn’t imagine going to private institutions, where they’d pay more than what they are now.

To help ease the stress of expenses, loan counselors advise former students to pick a specific program such as income based or deferment plan to stay on top of payments.

Stokes says, “Contact your servicer if you’re having trouble paying the bills and work out a new deal. A new plan can help lower payments or defer them until your income has increased sufficiently.”