More Americans are seeking out a higher education than ever before—and they’re paying for it. At more than $1.4 trillion, the nation’s total student loan debt is the highest it’s ever been. On top of that, many borrowers are left unable to pay their loans back after graduation. As a new survey from NextGenVest suggests, the fact that most high school seniors have no idea what they’re signing up for when they take out student loans may have something to do with that.
Kelly Peeler, founder of the college tuition payment mentoring service NextGenVest, recently reported the results of the survey at Forbes. After talking to 225 college-bound high school seniors from nine cities via SMS, the surveyors found that 68 percent of respondents said “they literally knew nothing” about student loan payment or refinancing services available after college.
More often than not, high schools are doing little to educate students on the subject. According to the study, just 31 percent of respondents had a financial aid workshop, scholarship session, or college financing–focused parent night offered at their school. When incoming undergrads are left to make sense of aid packages on their own, they can feel overwhelmed. Forty-five percent of students described navigating financial aid paperwork as more stressful than taking a standardized test.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans already burdened with student loan debt, it’s not too late to learn some strategies for paying it off. If you’re a graduate still on the job hunt, be on the lookout for benefits packages that offer built-in loan repayments. As a last resort, borrowers should look into changing plans or even deferring payments to avoid defaulting on their loans or having their wages garnished by their lenders.