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President Acts To Help Students Saddled With College Debt

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Signing an executive order Monday afternoon, President Barack Obama stretched out the repayment of federal student loans -- capping repayments at 10 percent of monthly income -- and he called on Congress to do more to help.

"I want Americans to pay attention to see where their lawmakers' priorities lie here: lower tax bills for millionaires or lower student loan bills for the middle class? This should be a no-brainer," the President said.

Kristin Cafaro of South Park is a University of Pittsburgh junior.

"Having that, at least be comforted to know I have more time I can get things together, would be a good idea," she said.

Here's the troubling news for those who go to college in Pennsylvania. Some 70 percent of recent students here are saddled with student debt. And the average debt nationwide is $29,400 per student.

For class of 2012 graduates, student debt was 69 percent in Ohio, 60 percent in New York, 58 percent in Maryland, and 54 percent in West Virginia, each lower than Pennsylvania, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.

Chris Quinn of Greensburg graduated three years ago from California University of Pennsylvania with $70,000 in debt.

"I was an education major and teachers don't make too much to pay that back, so right now I'm trying to get a second job, bar tending, serving, whatever I can do to make up for it," said Quinn.

Financial planner A. J. Jugan says Pennsylvania's public universities are more expensive than out-of-state ones, and young people need to think about debt before they start college.

"They don't understand the amount of debt they're going to take on and what those payments are going to look like once they come out of school. If they have a $600, $700 amount payment on a $50,000-a-year salary, that's difficult," noted Jugan.

And he warns stretching out the payment makes it costlier in more interest payments.

"It really doesn't help you. It just buys you more time. You're paying for the right to not pay today," added Jugan.

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