3 Tips for Advising Students with Huge Student Loan Debt

By Amy Cavender, M.Ed.

My grandmother was a very frugal woman, having lived through the Great Depression and a World War. She also greatly valued education, and the day I was born (or thereabouts), she started a savings account for my education. Through her generosity and foresight (and luck, and maybe even privilege), I didn’t have to take out any loans for my undergraduate education. She got me most of the way through graduate school without any loan debt, as well.

It’s hard for me to grasp exactly what it’s like for people who rely on loans to get through school. The idea of taking on that much debt early in life is utterly terrifying, but I’ve never felt that terror myself. However, it seems I’m solidly in the minority on that nowadays.

University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas at Austin

Gawker just did a piece on the schools with the highest total student debt loads, and it’s quite sad. My own alma mater, The University of Texas, is in their top 10 list, which is not surprising due to the large size of the undergraduate enrollment (since the debts are listed cumulatively, and not per capita), but looking at the supporting and source materials is quite a shock. We’re talking about vast amounts of money, and this isn’t even looking at student loans from private lenders.

So what are some tips for advising students with huge student loan debt?

  1. Always keep in mind the enormous financial pressures that most students face, because those pressures can easily lead to stress and anxiety.
  2. Help students be mindful of the fact that they’re spending good money, now, and for a few decades to come, on their education, and it’s important for them to maximize this money by staying healthy and clear-headed.
  3. Help students develop stress management and planning skills so that when it’s time to enter their career field and start paying back those loans, they’ll be able to do their best and be successful.

Do you have any other tips or comments to add? Write them below.

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