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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

How To Manage Student Loan Debt


The average American college student will graduate with more than $35,000 in student loan debt.

On Think, as a part of KERA’s series One Crisis Away: Drowning in Debt, Krys Boyd talked about strategies to pay for college with Ron Elsenbaumer of UT-Arlington and Cynthia Butler of Dallas County Community College District.

The KERA Interview

Ron Elsenbaumer on …

… the importance of Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): 

“Completing that form gives the institution a wealth of information about other need-based funding that the institution has available for students. So, it isn’t just about the federal loans or federal Pell grants. We give out over $100 million a year in aid to our students. This is a combination of federal, as well as institutional funds. That’s a lot of money. Less than half of that is from Pell grants. So there’s still quite a bit of money available from the institution for students that have financial need and we determine that by filling out the free application form.”  

... the 60 percent rule:

“We are striving to have students accrue no more debt than what would be 60 percent of their first year wages once they graduate and get into their career or profession. Understanding what your career pathway will actually pay you in terms of an expected salary will help you understand where you should be in terms of your expected amount that you want might to borrow for your education.”

Cynthia Butler on …

…. planning for debt after graduation:

“I think that student debt is definitely a contributing factor to a student’s self-sufficiency and whether they can afford to maintain all of their normal living expenses and take on their student loan debt. Although I don’t think that it is the only factor. I think that they have to look at what type of earning potential that they have and how much they’re borrowing to try to minimize what they’re going to have to repay when they do get out into the job market so that they can afford to take care of their living expenses as well as repaying their student loans.”