In 2015, the average student loan debt for a college graduate eclipsed $35,000, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
That’s a lot of money, and students often underestimate their ability to repay it.
The standard repayment plan for federal student loans puts borrowers on a 10-year track to pay off their debt, but research has shown the average bachelor’s degree holder takes 21 years to pay off the loans.
As the cost of higher education rises, so does the rate of students graduating with debt. Last year, 71 percent of students graduated with a student loan, compared with 65 percent 10 years ago and 54 percent two decades ago, the CFPB reports.
Jerry Bazilme, 21, studies physical education at the University of South Florida. Like many students, he also works part-time and wrestles with how he will pay tuition, rent and all the other costs that go along with college.
“[Classmates] always talk about the loans they take out and the cost of schooling and the price they pay for rent and cable and internet,” Bazilme said. “When they do talk about finance, I just keep quiet.”
Because even though Bazilme must juggle different financial responsibilities, programs through The Salvation Army have helped make paying for school more manageable. Bazilme is one of 16 students living in subsidized housing as part of a Salvation Army program in Tampa, Fla.