By: Laura Walton AFC®
Recently, the TCI Foundation had the opportunity to meet with a class of Dorrance scholarship recipients at the University of Arizona McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship in the Eller School of Management (www.dorrancescholarship.org). The Dorrance Scholarship Program honors first generation college students and they are an outstanding group of young adults.
Their summer semester covers entrepreneurial leadership and innovation. Over the course of three and a half weeks, the students are expected to take a social innovation from concept to a finished presentation suitable for potential investors. They work in teams of two or three and develop ideas based on their fields of interest and areas of passion.
These students have earned full scholarships; however, when we spoke they had lots of questions about student loans which many of them will require for graduate degrees.
In Arizona, 54% of students graduate with an average of $20,299 in student debt.
In general, we know that about 65% of high-debt student loan borrowers surveyed misunderstood or were surprised by aspects of their student loans or the student loan process.
When asked what decisions they would have made differently knowing what they now know about college costs, the class of 2013 reports:
- more than half (52%) would have researched more grants/scholarships
- 48% would have started saving earlier
- 42% would have found more ways to save and control costs while in school
- 23% would have better researched and understood financial aid and the implications of taking on student debt
- 24% would have opened a dedicated college savings account
Media reports tell us that today’s student loan balances will have a far-reaching effect on our economy. The money required to pay back these loans will keep their holders from being the consumers that our economy depends on as they put off buying homes, cars and other durable goods and even starting families.
An important part of the Foundation’s mission is to help consumers make informed decisions that will support their long term goals. If student loans are a topic of particular interest, please join our class on the subject in November (see our class schedule).