By Brandon Lewis, Staff Writer

Student debt is an obstacle that most college students have to overcome once they earn their degrees and move on into the “real world,” if you will. It was recently reported that outstanding student loan debt exceeds $956 billion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit.

Student debt

The student debt crisis / IMAGE VIA

This amount is far greater than outstanding auto loan and credit card debt, according to CNN. Luckily, I’m  not too worried about my financial status because my debt isn’t that bad… yet. However my cousin, who will be graduating from Boston University this May, is being hit hard by the effects of college loans. I know lots of students are in her situation. She aspires to enroll in graduate school, but she wants to pay off her debt before taking on more student loans. She plans to work for the two years following her graduation hoping to pay back a substantial amount of the debt she incurred at BU. Some students are hardly lucky enough to tackle debt in two years.

One in five American households is facing the wrath of college debt, according to CBS Miami. The students are not the only ones encountering this financial hurdle. It’s also the parents. Many parents have their own college loans they’re still paying off. Others are helping out their kids and putting money toward the loans. College debt is truly becoming an issue that affects the entire family.

My parents told me not to worry about the financial struggles of college, but it’s hard for me to ignore a problem that will consume my life a few years from now. I just imagine myself as a graduate struggling to find work and being harassed by loan services thirsty for their money. I just don’t want to be that person whose debt exceeds $100,000 because this amount is just way too muchm especially if you can’t even find a job related to your major. Surely, nobody wants debt anywhere near that amount. Paying off loans for the rest of your life basically turns a person into a financial slave. You’ll always be thinking about those dreaded monthly payments.

But how should we avoid it?

America Saves, an initiative of the Consumer Federation of America, and Sallie Mae released a tip sheet last month for graduates, providing advice on how to pay their student loans:

  1. Know how much you owe each month.
  2. Make payments automatic.
  3. Make payments each and every month.
  4. If you do fall behind, get help.
  5. Update your servicer with any changes.
  6. Beware of scams!
  7. Build an emergency fund in case of unpredictable circumstances.

Well, yeah, okay. The fourth bullet is the most ominous. It’s sad to say that the debt problem is the premier issue for students these days. It’s not fair that we have to worry about staying on top of our studies and our financial statuses simultaneously. But hey, that’s life right? Life is not easy, but it’s almost as if every student is in this situation.