How To Determine the Right Amount To Borrow as a College Student

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The 2021 school year is right around the corner and many students will soon have to decide how much to borrow for college. While student loans help students pay for college classes, the monthly bill following graduation is a major cause of stress. 

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According to higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz, the average student loan payment is $400 per month, reports CNBC, which makes it difficult for people to save for their future. Experts advise students to borrow cautiously. Anna Helhoski, a student loan expert at, told CNBC that borrowing the total cost of your degree isn’t financially feasible for most people and when it comes to student debt, there’s the chance of “biting off more than you can chew.” 

A majority of students rely on loans in pursuit of a degree. According to data from the Institute for College Access & Success, seven in 10 college seniors graduate with nearly $30,000 in debt per borrower, as noted by a separate CNBC report. 

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Betsy Mayotte, president of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors, told CNBC that she advises to not borrow more than the average starting salary for your career of choice. “Every $10,000 you borrow ends up being around $125 per month, every month, for 10 years,” she said. “Finally, don’t ever borrow assuming loan forgiveness.”

Meanwhile, Helhoski recommends planning for student loan payments that don’t exceed 10% of your expected after-tax monthly income for your first-year post-graduation. She also advises using any federal student loans available before using private loans. She added that federal student loans carry borrower protections such as the chance for debt forgiveness and repayment options based on your income, reports CNBC.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.

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