Students should ‘Know What You Owe’

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Although President Obama has set a plan to make it easier for students to pay off their loans once they graduate, this does not help the students enrolled in a university now especially with interest rates on the rise for student loans.

The Missouri Western Financial Aid office has started a campaign for students to understand more about their loans. According to Financial Aid Assistant Director Cindy Spotts, the “Know What You Owe” campaign will help students get a bit more information on how to handle their loans and not fall into debt. The idea for this came to Spotts after meeting with a student.

“I had a student walk into my office one day, who I considered to be very responsible, and [he] had no idea how much he had borrowed,” Spotts said. “He had no clue how much his payments were or where to begin, so that’s when this kicked off.”

Financial Aid Director Marilyn Baker and Spotts came up with the campaign, which will help Western students learn more about their interest rates and how to manage their college career in the long run.

“We want to get out there and let students know that it’s important to talk to their [loan] servicer,” Spotts said. “These holders know what plans you are qualified for and understand your situation, so don’t be afraid to speak up.”

The campaign plans on having sessions open to student organizations, departments and the student body to come and hear the presentation and get their questions answered. The main concerns the founders of this organization seem to have is whether these students have any idea what they are getting themselves into.

“The best thing for students to do is to stop and think,” Baker said. “What should you do to make sure that you don’t owe over $5,000 in loans when you graduate?”

As Spotts said, the presentation will focus on numerous points ranging not only about the reality of student loans, but budgeting, credit reports and how much you should borrow.

“Most students don’t know when they go into repayment, or even who their servicers are,” Spotts said.

According to Financial Aid office student employee Joshua North, there are multiple things students can do, now, so they won’t be hit down the road.

“The biggest thing students can do is to start paying on the loans while going to school,” North said. “One way to do that is get a job, and start paying those monthly payments.”

The “Know What You Owe” campaign has its perks for students. It’s offering 5 students a $500 scholarship for whomever takes the challenge and figures out their student loans.

According to Spotts, students can go to their website, www.missouriwestern.edu/finaid/Challenge.asp, and take the challenge.

“If we can reach out to even one student,” Spotts said, “then that is one student we helped figure out what to do about their loans.”

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