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Survey shows majority of college

Fifty-one percent of student loan recipients say it will take them more than 10 years to pay off their student loans, according to a new study by CollegeGrad. com, an Internet search engine for newly graduated students seeking entry-level positions in corporate America.

The study showed a 5-percent jump in student loans from 2006. It also found 28 percent of college students have no loans, while 14 percent have loans that will take them less than 5 years to repay.

The survey was conducted nationally with more than 4,000 online respondents between August and October.

“The financial pressures being placed on college graduates are growing each year, ”CollegeGrad.com Spokeswoman Adeola Ogunwole said. “Being weighed down with debt after college makes quickly finding a post-graduation job a priority for most students.”

Considering the increase in interest rates for federal student loans, combined with the ever-increasing sticker price of a college education and a faltering economy, it’s not surprising that students are faced with larger student loan bills upon graduation and a lengthier payback period, Ogunwole said.

With only a six-month grace period before having to begin payments on most loans, it is critical for graduates to quickly begin earning a steady income, she said.

“Finding a job that produces a steady income is very important in establishing the credit needed when applying for home and, or car loans,” Ogunwole said.

The most common loans – Stafford loans – require an entrance and exit-loan counseling session per federal guidelines, which helps students understand the agreement they are entering, said Jim Owen, directorof One Stop.

Stafford loans are federal and come with a 10-year note, and depending on whether they are subsidized, interest will either accrue after graduation or directly after the loan is made.

“In cases where students are having issues, students should seek council with the lender,” Owen said. “Any renegotiation is between the student and the lender.”

However, new loan programs are in the works. A new possible lending vehicle is the graduated repayment program, where the Federal Reserve System would set an income threshold. If graduates make below the threshold, they would theoretically not have to repay their loan until they crossed the government’s determined income level, Owen said.

Another new lending program is the Teach grant, which subsidizes the cost of education for students who plan on teaching in urban community schools upon graduation.

“You receive the grant for teaching at challenging schools, but if you leave teaching after a few years, the grant will turn into an unsubsidized Stafford loan and the student will accrue interest from the initial loan date,” Owen said. “It may make sense for grad students because they are already familiar with the stresses of teaching. They would know what they would be getting into.”

E-mail James Cannon II at [email protected].

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