JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --It is graduation day at UNF. While students are glad the classroom is now behind them, the reality of paying off their student loans is in front of them.
Allison Smith just earned a bachelor's degree in marketing. She said it took a student loan to get her started.
"I had one the first year of college, it was just about $2,000," said Smith.
Her mother, Jody,insisted on Allison getting the student loan.
"I wanted them to feel responsible for their college education, so I made them get a loan for $2,500 and regret it," said Jody Smith.
But now their perspective on student loans have completely changed since Allison first enrolled in college.
"I don't know how kids do it," said Jody Smith, "how they graduate from college with this debt and live."
Allison is graduating debt-free -- her parents paid off her student loan. She is going to cosmetology school and plans to do it without a student loan.
"I don't want any debt," she said.
Jacksonville University's Breanne Simkin said "students are not really sure," how to feel.
Simkin said about 90% of undergraduates have a student loan, and so do 50% of graduate students.
Florida State College at Jacksonville's Michele Bowles said"we encourage all students to minimize their loan debt."
Allison Smith has no student loans, but she has a positionon the debatewhether to increase the interest rate or not.
"It is hard enough as it is. I don't think they should double it," she said.
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators said the issue is far from being resolved.
Spokesperson Haley Chitty's advice to students is, "don't panic."
Chitty said if the interest rates do go up, it will only add about $9 more to monthly payments.
First for you:
If you have a college student loan, know your repayment options. Is it an extended repayment plan or income-based repayment?
Try tominimize your borrowing now.
Whether Congress raises the interest rate on student loans or not, students say if they need to get a student loan they will, because completing their education is more important.