There is somewhere between $902 billion and $1 trillion in total outstanding student loan debt in the United States today. Many students consider the funds that they borrow to be an investment in their future and statistics absolutely confirm that income does indeed increase at each tier of education. Forty-one percent of student borrowers are delinquent at some point in the first five years after entering repayment, for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, there are steps that students can take to increase their financial literacy.
The University of Illinois has partnered with the iGrad financial literacy platform, which offers informative articles, interactive budgeting tools, engaging webinars and an online TownHall where students and staff across the nation can connect on common financial topics.
This highly customizable site includes content that is driven by individual users. For example, a freshman utilizing their Post 9/11 G.I. Bill can find tips for keeping debt in check, a graduating senior with student loans can compare repayment options, and every student can access content that is updated daily. The iGrad financial literacy platform can be found at www.igrad.com
Students and employees at the University of Illinois also have the opportunity to sign up as a “Saver” through the University of Illinois Saves campaign between Feb. 24 and April 10. America Saves is a campaign coordinated by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America and is dedicated to helping individuals save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. More information can be found at: www.universityillinoissaves.org
The average graduate leaves school with $27,253 in total debt. At every step along the way to graduation, there are little decisions that students can make which significantly improve personal debt, from buying used books to starting loan repayment while still in school.
Consider this final statistic: approximately one-third of recent grads reported that if they could choose again, they would have pursued more scholarships or financial aid options, pursued a major that would have led to a higher paying job, or gotten a job while in college and started saving earlier. Luckily, University of Illinois students have been given some invaluable resources to learn money management techniques and personal finance budgeting to last a lifetime.
By Jess Weber
iGrad Director of Military Support & Development