Students Weighing Options Based on Future Debt

By: Carly Stephenson Email
By: Carly Stephenson Email

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- Billions of dollars in outstanding student loan debt across the country has parents and students concerned about the rising cost of college.

"The question was, how am I going to pay for college?" asked Blake Rodgers, a senior at Eastern Mennonite University. He will owe about $10,000 in loans after he graduates.

"Ultimately like, I can't compare the cost of education to what I'm going to get out of it in my lifetime," said Rodgers. For him, a private college ended up being the cheaper option.

EMU Director of Admissions, Jason Good, said the debt-to-work ratio is a consideration for many families. "Families want to know, 'okay, what is this major going to result in as far as a job, am I going to be able to get into the field I want,'" said Good.

The average student debt at EMU, upon graduation, is comparable to James Madison University's average of $22,783. At Bridgewater College, the average loan debt upon graduation is $31,153.

For future college students, Rodgers said, it's about managing the debt as you go. "Make sure you invest in your education and not necessarily worry about the price tag that's going to be attached to it," said Rodgers.

Good said the outliers, students with a lot of debt are not the norm. "Graduating from college with more than $100,000 in debt. That's not near close to the reality for most students," said Good.

As Rodgers studies to complete his double major, he believes the cost is worth it for the job he has lined up once he graduates.

Bridgewater College, JMU and EMU offer financial aid and scholarships. Advisers said the first step for high school students is to start applying for aid early.


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