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Graduation

Simple steps students can take to afford college, avoid student loan debt, and plan for future

COUNTRY Financial® encourages students to set goals before they graduate

May 9, 2018

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The month of May has students of all ages moving on to their next chapter. For graduating students, it is a month marked by important decisions that will likely impact their long-term financial health.

A recent COUNTRY Financial Security Index® survey showed that many people who borrowed money to go to college did not have the resources needed to understand student debt. In fact, over a third of Americans with student debt said no one taught them how to manage their debt.

The survey also found that the concern about debt prevented many students from completing their degrees.  More than half (59 percent) said the cost of education factored into their inability to finish their education. Plus, 53 percent of Americans said student loans were a factor in their decision not to finish school.

“Outside of buying a home, a college degree is usually one of the largest investments people make,” said Troy Frerichs, Director of Wealth Management and Financial Planning at COUNTRY Financial.  “Getting a degree can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be out of reach. No matter whether your child is earning a promotion from eighth grade to high school, a high school diploma, or a college degree, families can take simple steps to try to avoid some of the roadblocks many American families have faced.”

Get started or check in on your plan for college
Because tuition and housing costs continue to climb, college may feel out of reach for many high school students and soon-to-be college students. However, working farther in advance, you will find there are ways to attend college without completely breaking the bank.

Borrowers can follow these simple steps to help control education costs and manage student loans:

  • Set long-term financial goals that incorporate saving and debt management
  • Consider community colleges with transfer credits and advance placement tests to shorten the path to a degree
  • Comparison shop both private and public schools and ask about scholarships 
  • Take a realistic look at college non-tuition expenses including fees, housing and transportation
  • Create a budget for post-college life
  • Understand loan restructuring and consolidation options

Adulting with your new college degree can be challenging, but doable
It’s not uncommon for people to have a few thousand dollars of student debt after graduation. In fact, a COUNTRY Financial Security Index survey found Americans carrying an average of more than $36,000 of student loan debt.

Once that diploma is in hand, college graduates should evaluate their personal financial situation to identify ways to make sure student debt isn’t in the picture.

  • Take a realistic look at post-college living expenses. Are there places where you can cut? Do you need cable television?  Can you shop at discount stores?
  • Create a budget for post-college life
  • Understand loan restructuring and consolidation options
  • Set long-term financial goals that incorporate saving and debt management

Get going on your financial future with the help of your family and friends
One easy way to tackle debt and start yourself on a journey towards financial freedom is to create a plan for how to use any graduation money that you received from your family and friends.

  • Add to your emergency fund - Until you have three to six months of your salary saved, consider putting a hold on all major spending and major debt repayment and focus on saving.
  • Attack debt - Target your high interest debt first. Even if you can’t pay something off entirely, the more you’re able to put into it, the more you’ll save on interest in the long run.
  • Consider your options – Graduates moving into a new job may now be looking at choosing various benefit plans as part of their employment package. New employees should carefully review their options and make selections that will assist in their long-term goals.

For more information on how to make the transition from graduation to preparing for long-term financial health, visit www.takesimplesteps.com.

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Media Contact
Chris Coplan
chris.coplan@countryfinancial.com
309-821-5357