Debt Increases Student Stress | Hillsboro Star-Journal


Staff editor

Like many students in Marion County, Goessel graduate Katelyn Olson, 19, faces more than the stress of the classroom to become a social science teacher.

Student loans which, according to a national lending institution, average $ 32,045 for every Kansas student, loom above her.

That’s 13% less than the national average of $ 36,689, but nearly 6% of Kansas student borrowers will end up owing $ 100,000 or more.

Even an average debt of $ 32,045 translates into a monthly payment of $ 255 on loans that will likely not be repaid for 20 years or more after a student graduates.

“I’m a full-time student with barely enough time to work part-time at minimum wage,” Olson said. “So even thinking about paying it back seems like a huge burden to me, because I know the interest accumulates the more I work to be able to pay it.”

A student at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Olson recently changed her specialization to social science education.

The time she has to devote to school has changed because of this. She estimates that she will be in college for four more years.

Giving up luxuries while facing an often difficult job market and the pressure of academic performance can lead to depression and anxiety. Not being able to indulge in interests that involve money increases this peril.

Kansas has several programs for undergraduates and graduate students that offer at least a partial loan repayment. Many encourage medical students to pursue careers in Kansas. However, the number of scholarships is limited and they apply to narrow areas.

A Rural Opportunity Zone program in Marion County is open to students of all majors. It offers up to $ 15,000 in loan repayments to students wishing to move here from other regions. But the waiting list for the two allowed awards each year is extremely long, and not all students want to move to Marion County – or, for that matter, stay in Kansas, as other programs require.

One of Olson’s classmates, 18-year-old Taryn Stout, from Sterling, specializes in art therapy in Bethany.

She received scholarships from Bethany which covered the majority of her expenses, but she still has to rely on savings and loans taken out with the help of her father.

“Right now there is a hiatus on student loan interest until October,” she said.

The CARES Act suspended loan payments and put a 0% interest rate in effect until September 30.

“I’m trying to get more money to pay it back in full,” Stout said.

She held two part-time jobs – one in the college’s admissions department and one in a pizza restaurant – while remaining a full-time student, taking 18 credit hours this semester.

She plans to become a resident assistant in a dormitory next year to cover her living expenses.

The pressure to pay off his loans as soon as possible gives him a lot of stress.

“My dad isn’t that concerned about me paying for everything,” Stout said, “but I feel like I should be. I try to keep my daily expenses low and save as much as possible. Sometimes I get stressed out about how much I think I need to save, even though I don’t really have to worry about it right now.

Stout plans to pursue a master’s degree, which typically takes six years. She tries to reduce it to five.

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