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College students hope to benefit from lower loan interest rates

Published On: Aug 01 2013 05:11:47 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 01 2013 05:46:55 PM EDT

While interest rates are lowering, tuition at many colleges is still rising.

SALEM, Va. -

Shawn Davis is a senior at Virginia Tech.

He works at the Virginia $1.95 cleaners in Roanoke to pay off the $18,000 in loans he's borrowed from the government.

He is just one of 37 million students in the United States that owes money borrowed to pay for college tuition. By the time he graduates, he estimates he will owe at least $30,000.

"It's going to be tough. You got to get a job and that's a hard thing to find. It's kind of mounting," Virginia Tech Senior Shawn Davis said.

So we did the math. If President Obama signs the lower 3.86% interest rate for undergraduate loans into law, it still will take Shawn more than 17 years to pay back all that debt.

Mary Jean Corriss is Director of Financial Aid at Hollins University. She says it's the students who borrow more than $100,000 or from private companies that can get in the most trouble.

"I would try to stay away from some of the private education loans because some of those interest rates don't have caps on them. If you miss a payment they can jack up really high," Director Mary Jean Corriss said.

She says there are safeguards that prevent the average borrower from sinking from a mountain of debt such as a payment freeze if you find yourself unemployed.

But, what's the best advice Corris can give? Knowing when to say no.

"Some people are used to the big new cars, getting a new cell phone all the time and going on vacations. Just knowing what you can afford and sticking to that," Corriss said.

So which loans does Corriss say you should you choose? Subsidized Stafford loans or federal Perkins loans are your best bet.