SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Georgia has the fifth-highest average federal student debt rate in the U.S., with a sum of more than $64 billion.
A new study from personal finance company Upgraded Points shows the average borrower in Georgia owes $41,310, compared to the national average of $34,909, which makes the state the third-highest debt per borrower.
“It’s a widespread problem, it is an issue,” Devon Cameron said, who conducted research for the study. “And just from a personal finance perspective, you have to be aware of what it actually means to have that much debt and how you can keep your spending under control and allow you to pay off that debt as quickly as possible.”
The price of higher education in the U.S. increases each year, and many students go into substantial amounts of debt before beginning their careers.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, total student debt in the country tops over $1 trillion, with 39 million student borrowers.
She says it’s important to keep your student loan debt in sync with your income.
“Colleges are forcing us to ask the questions whether or not it’s worth it,” Cameron said. “Having an understanding of how you can minimize your debt beyond just college loans to live a sustainable lifestyle based on your earnings is crucial.”
Cameron suggests understanding the gravity of taking on large amounts of debt at a young age and looking into community college options for a few years before attending a four-year university to limit the amount of debt you owe upon graduating.
“Knowledge of personal finance and credit cards can be tools to achieve your goals,” she said.
She also advises students to look into scholarship and work-study options before attending school and saving as much as possible before enrolling.
“Many times, you’re graduating from college and you’re eligible for internships or entry-level positions,” Cameron said. “These aren’t enough to pay of very substantial student loans that you have taken out in order to attend your dream school.”
“Best practices will look different for everyone, but it’s most important to have an understanding of how personal finances work,” she added.