Walking across the stage and into debt. That's the reality for many of Mississippi's college grads. The state was named worst for student debt in a recent study by Wallet Hub.
"I wish that I had done some things differently regarding my financial aid for undergraduate as well as graduate," said Andre Terry.
Terry said he doesn't think his family realized all the financial pieces of the puzzle before he enrolled.
"However, this is a part of life for me and I just had to learn that lesson the hard way," noted Terry.
The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Financial Aid director, Jennifer Rogers, said the study highlights two problems: affordability and completion rates.
"The state has invested adequate funds to allow institutions to keep the tuition low," Rogers explained. "On the flip side, because tuition has been low, the state hasn't invested a great deal of money in state-based financial aid."
Rogers said families take on higher responsibilities when the state doesn't make more money available.
"Half of all student graduates in Mississippi and that's four year, two year, public, private are leaving college with student debt," noted Rogers.
She suggested students seek out grant money because it doesn't have to be repaid.
"Borrow only what you need, stay in school and finish your degree," she said. "And try to complete in the least amount of time possible."
Bottom line, experts say to plan ahead and look at the full costs of college, not just the tuition.
Click here for the Wallet Hub study: 2015’s Best and Worst States for Student Debt.
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