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Student Loans And The Struggle Of Paying Them Off

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Getting a college education is great, but having to pay off your student loans for years is not.

Many families are now seeing their college graduates struggle to live and pay off their loans.

There are private student loans and there are government student loans.

If the money you borrowed for school is with a private lender, your only option is to appeal to that lender for help if you're having trouble paying.

"If you do have a federal loan, there are a number of ways that you can repay that loan," CBS News Senior Business Analyst Jill Schlesinger says.

For everyone holding out hope that all the talk about loan forgiveness will get you off the hook, Schlesinger says she wouldn't count on it, but if it happens, it would be terrific news.

"The government is trying to provide some flexibility depending on your circumstances post graduation," Schlesinger added.

Schlesinger says the biggest issue graduates are facing is that they are not making as much money in the working world as they expected.

When asked if individuals are able to get into an income-based repayment plan, Scheslinger said "Yes, your payment will drop down on a monthly basis, but you're going to add many years to this loan."

Schlesinger says being put onto an auto-payment system is a must. "You should be on auto-payment so that you will never miss a payment," she said.

Both government and private lenders offer a 0.25% interest rate reduction if you agree to auto-payment. Over time, that could mean saving hundreds of dollars.

Watch: KDKA's John Shumway reports:


Schlesinger also says there needs to be some tough love reality talk when it comes to the amount of money that is borrowed.

"Before you start talking loans, families should be having conversations about how much they can afford as early as their freshman year of high school," Schlesinger said.

Schlesinger says a general rule is that one shouldn't borrow more than they think they're going to make in their first year of employment.

"We encourage people to have frank conversations with their kids about their financial wherewithal to do this," Schlesinger said of planning for borrowing.

Schlesinger lastly says parents have to protect their own futures before they start co-signing loans for their kids' college. Otherwise, parents run out of money and the graduate ends up supporting the parent.

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