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Better Ask Barry

Better Ask Barry: Any tips for paying off student loans?

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MARINA, Calif (KION) For many students, it’s the same story: Go off to college, get a little knowledge, and rack up a big debt.

"Around this time last year, I owed about $66,000 in student loans," said Meghan Combs, 32.

On average, college students who graduated in 2018 owe more than $29,000 in loans.

The CSUMB students we spoke with said that’s a pretty accurate number.

“It’s about 30 grand that I owe overall, thanks to scholarships and other (sources),” said Annissa Crow.

“Once I get done with school, it would be like 30-thousand I have to pay back,” said Leslie Nabor.
“Thinking about how I pay that back? I haven’t thought about that yet.”

"Only borrow the total amount of money that you think you'll make in your first couple of years of work," said CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger.

She is the author of “The Dumb Things Smart People Do With Their Money.”

She suggests families talk about college – and how to pay for it -- early.

"We want to start having conversations with our children maybe when they are in 8th or 9th grade and say here's what this family can afford," Schlesinger said. “Maybe it's better if I go close to home.   Maybe I need to go to a state school or a community college."

 When you start repayment, try to get high interest loans paid down, and take advantage of student deferments on interest.

“I was still in school when I started paying my debt, because once you’re out of school, that’s when they can start charging you for that interest. When you’re in school, they can’t charge you for that interest,” said Gabriel Pajas, a student from Marina who has already paid off his loans.

As you begin to earn more, try to accelerate payments.

"My timeline for paying off my student loans, this time last year, was around 10 years and now, with my living situation and my raise  -- all of that --allows me to pay them off in four years," said Combs.

One final suggestion: Experts say it's also important that parents continue to fund their own retirement while helping a child get through college.

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Barry Brown

Barry Brown is an anchor and reporter at KION News Channel 5/46.

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