Life After College: Drowning in student loan debt

- The degrees have been handed out, you've walked across the stage , you've tossed your cap into the air, and the party's over once reality sets in.

The next phase is the working adult phase. But, that phase may be severely hampered with student loans strangling the life out of young people who are trying to move into the future while still paying for the past.

It's a new rite of passage, steeply on the rise, and there's nothing to cheer about.

More than a trillion dollars of student loan debt is sending more than 40-million stumbling into adulthood  and beyond.

"I mean you talk to anybody and they're just in debt up to their eyeballs," student and FOX 29 intern Shannon Ryan explained.

It's weighing heavily on our newsroom interns, who clamoring to land jobs once they walk across that stage.

"I mean there's people who don't go to college sometimes who are making more money than people who do," Shannon explained.

 The average graduate in the class of 2016 is carrying 37,000 dollars in student loan debt.

"We're thousands of dollars in debt before we can get into the real world. That's crazy to me," intern and student Kaitlin Clark explained.

Worse yet, they still have another year until graduation.

"So these are big numbers and a lot of these folks weren't ready for the shock," Financial expert Dan Roccato explained.  

What it would take to dig out.

"I'm paying about 700 dollars a month," Jazmyn Curry began, "Six months later they're like 'We want our money but and we want it now."

So how does one even begin to pay off so much debt?

"I didn't have a job or anything so I'm like 'OK how am I gonna pay you guys back?" Curry explained.  

30 year old Jazmyn Curry has her bachelor's from Penn State, her Master's from Temple, and now a great job at Temple.

"It still comes out to $700 every month," she said.  

She wants a husband, children, a home but all of that costs money too.  

"You think about 'Oh yes, I love him, it's great, but How much are you paying in student loans?" Curry added.

Her life's on hold.

She's drowning in about 70-thousand dollars of student loan debt, and one or 2 more federal and private loans.

She doesn't think she will be done paying them off for another 15-years. She will be 45. She is not alone.

"There's record numbers of people in their 20's living back with their parents," financial expert Dan Hernandez explained.

It's the parents of those children who ask financial experts like Dan Hernandez and Dan Roccato for help.

"If you can live at home for a short period of time, put some money in the bank, make some progress against those student loans - do it," Roccato suggested.

"There's no magic answer - you have to budget and you have to live within your means or you're going to find yourself in holes," added Hernandez  

Using her own nightmare, Jazmyn now counsels students about how to avoid pitfalls, like make a student loan your last option.

"You should always apply for money," she began.  

You can typically do this at your church, neighborhood groups and businesses, large and small.

"Anywhere you go they probably have scholarship funds," she added.  

And check out available grants and scholarships even after you get into a college to replace loans.

"I wanna make sure students don't have as much debt as I do or if they do have debt, they know how to manage it," she said.

You can apply to have some or all of your loans "forgiven" or your payments lowered, you may be able to do it thru the military, public service, or by working at the college you're attending.

But there are no guarantees.

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