HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The number of college students buried in financial debt is growing, and it is worse for students in Mississippi.
A recent study by WalletHub ranks the Magnolia state as the ninth worst state for student debt.
Student debt is higher than even car loans right now.
University of Southern Mississippi Director of Financial Aid David Williamson said an average student graduating from The University of Southern Mississippi have $18,000 to $20,000 to pay back. He said at some schools in the state, the cost is higher.
Like many college students Southern Miss Senior Lucien Sterling has college debt.
"I don't know exactly the exact amount I am in debt, but I do have to have it paid once I graduate," Sterling said.
He said the biggest challenge is finding a job in the sports management field that will help pay off his loans.
"There are not a lot of jobs out here so we're kind of limited to certain resources as far as other states are," Sterling explained.
While students aren't doing so great with debt ratio, Mississippi is ranked number one when it comes to availability for grants, but Williamson said Pell grants don't cover full tuition.
"They get a lot of grants, because they don't have discretionary income to pay the remaining of their student expenses so they have to get student loans to subsidize those expenses," Williamson explained.
Williamson said parents can also help student decrease their loan debt.
"Have them plan early on in their development," Williamson said."In elementary and high school and make a plan for them to attend college. I know that might be hard for some families."
Williamson also said students should think of debt as an investment.
"You're investing in your career in hopes that you will have the ability to get this high income so you need to take that approach and limit for you what you just need to pay for your expenses."
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