Financial aid education lacks among college students


Loan debt is common among many students who do not manage money carefully during and after college.

Gregorio Alcantar, Debt Management Counselor of Financial Aid, said the cost of tuition and housing usually exceeds a student’s income level, which makes student loans and grants the only way to graduate in time.

Much of students’ mismanagement of funds stems from not comprehending the terms of the loans they agree to, Alcantar said.

“Students are not understanding the master promissory note they sign when a loan is accepted and only one promissory note is signed, which follows a student through all college years,” Alcantar said.

The master promissory note is a promise to repay a sum of money to the holder of the loan within a certain time period.

“Students average around $13,000 in loan debt after graduation. If the debt is extremely higher than that, the student most likely made mistakes,” Alcantar said.

Alcantar said students often assume they could receive most of their loan information through the university. He said students, however, should maintain ongoing communication with their loan providers.

“Some students under majors such as business, assume they will acquire a job making a lot of money and are careless when taking out loans,” he said. “Certain professions are not keeping up with these student debts. After graduation, some people who cannot keep up with payments become afraid and too embarrassed to notify the lender, causing their status to become delinquent.”

One mistake students often make is paying their class fees through a credit card. That repayment starts the next billing cycle, giving the student an additional monthly bill.

Not understanding loan consolidation is another problem. Consolidation services combines various loan amount to create one payment. Loan consolidation depends on the payment plan a person selects and how much debt he or she has acquired.

Students are given a grace period of six months, if a student drops below part-time status or if a student drops out. Deferment forms are available to postpone loan payments, which need to be approved by the lender.

Scholarships are another way to pay for college and students. Few students, however, apply for scholarships.

“I am stuck in that middle-class area where I cant afford to pay for college, but my parents make too much for me to be able to accept loans,” said Aaron Gorham, sophomore undecided major.

With little options left to fund college, Gorham applies for scholarships to help pay for tuition and fees

“I found a scholarship through the Los Angeles Times, which is paying my way,” he said. “There are a lot of government grants available, but most students don’t even know they qualify for them.”

The Financial Aid Department provides 20 money saving strategies for CSUN students to apply to their everyday lives. Some of these strategies include, using debit cards, e-mailing instead of using a phone, using student discounts at local stores and reducing luxury habits.

Counseling is also available for students whose stress levels from financial problems become intolerable.

“Money matters are certainly one of the stresses students experience,” said Tony Johnson, CSUN psychologist. “Students find college demanding and worry about whether or not they can succeed. Counselors here sit down with students and analyze different options to reduce the stress in their lives.”

While stress often results from financial matters and education, Alcantar believes both issues should be considered when determining one’s future.

“Student loan debt should be seen as an investment,” Alcantar said. “When I present my skills from college to my employer and I make a good salary, my $23,000 debt is paying itself.”