College Students Charging Up Record Debts

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

A new study shows more college students are charging their education costs. According to Sallie Mae, credit card debt has hit an all time high amongst undergrads.

You don't have to go far to find students with credit card debt at Mesa State College. Freshman Lucas Schlaefer has racked up quite a bit in his first year.

"Four-thousand dollars at this point and I just got the credit card," Schlaefer told 11 News on Monday.

He works part time but says he has to charge school supplies and books to balance school costs with living costs.

"It racked up quick and I got on the internet and had to sit there and do a double take."

Schlaefer's story is becoming more and more common, undergrads swiping plastic and charging up thousands of dollars in debt.

According to a Sallie Mae study released Monday, the average undergrad has $3,173 in credit card debt, the highest since the college–financing company started keeping records in 1988.

Curt Martin is the Financial Aid Director for Mesa State College. He says he's not surprised.

"It is very concerning but the students have to learn how to keep track of things themselves," Martin said on Monday.

He says students should think twice about charging up high interest credit lines and they should always try to qualify for financial aid where they could find much lower rates.

"You may be eligible for grants or something to help cover your costs before you start putting your college education on a credit card."

He says putting things on plastic should be your very last option but for Freshman like Lucas Sclaefer, it's been the first.

"I'm a broke college student. It happens, credit cards are a must."

But although he's not paying now, Schlaefer is very worried about paying later because he's still got three more years of books and supplies to pay for.

The cost of college isn't helping students' cause. According to the College Board tuition at public four–year institutions has jumped 50 percent in the last ten years.

Depending on state cuts, Mesa State says it might raise its tuition. Board members will discuss the issue next month.

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