by Jeremias Ramos

With graduation less than two months away, do you know how you’re going to pay back your Federal Direct Student Loans?

The Mount Saint Mary College (MSMC) Financial Aid Office hosted “Financial Literacy: Your Loans, Loan Consolidation and Your Futur,” for graduating seniors who had this question in mind. The 30-minute program educated students about federal loan repayment requirements and consolidation options. The event was designed to help graduating seniors with questions they might have regarding their student loans.

“We are seeing more and more students interested in their loan payment options,” said Barbara Winchell, director of Financial Aid. “We saw a need for the program, and we wanted to make sure the students know their options.”

The average loan debt for Mount graduates is $25,000, according to Winchell, and many students opt out of the traditional 10-year-repayment program. “I hear students say, ‘I can’t pay $300 a month,’ so they choose either the graduated repayment option or the income based repayment program,” she said.

The income-based repayment option is popular among students, Winchell said. Students send in their tax return every two years, and the monthly payments are determined by their income. A student earning $24,000 a year after graduation with $40,000 in student loans can pay as little as $81 a month on their federal student loans, she said.

There are also many loan forgiveness options for students looking to work for 501C3 nonprofit organizations or title one school districts.

Several students attended the event to learn more about their federal student loans.

“I was nervous about loans in general,” said Stephanie Weaver. “There were so many questions I had about paying them back.” Weaver is a senior and is graduating this May with a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in psychology. She is hoping to continue her education after graduating from the Mount. “I plan to pay off my loans ASAP,” she said.

After attending the event, Weaver said she is more comfortable with her options and has more resources to help her repay her loans.

Students who are interested in knowing how much they owe in federal debt can go to, Nslds.ed.gov, or make an appointment at the Financial Aid office.