Students learn to “borrow smart” at workshop

By Cassie Munoz/reporter

NE students were warned about the consequences of student debt and provided with tips on how to “borrow smart” at a financial aid workshop March 27.

The worst thing a student can do is act like debt is not there and it will go away, NE financial aid specialist Joe Rodriguez said.

“Only take out what you need,” he said, “because you do have to pay it all back.”

Rodriguez showed students the types of debt that can be accumulated and a handout with a glossary of terms for helping students understand debt.

He also talked to students about debt they may face after graduating, such as car loans, home loans and credit card debt.

“As far as school debt, I would recommend applying for financial aid,” he said. “Students might want to even apply for scholarships to avoid debt because that is money you don’t have to pay that back.”

Rodriguez urged students to do everything they can before taking out a loan because of the burden of financial debt. He also pointed out that payment plans at TCC might be better than taking out a loan.

“Tuition is cheap here at TCC, so I offer the payment plan option first,” he said. “If you plan on transferring to a four-year institution, there is a good chance you will need loans there because tuition is more.”

Rodriguez said once students get a student loan, it will not go away until they pay it back.

“They will garnish your wages and take any funds that you are entitled to receive, income taxes — they will get their money one way or another,” he said.

Rodriguez talked about the dangers of defaulting on loans, which will look bad on credit reports, and students may not be able to receive financial aid.

He said the key is to communicate with lenders, if students borrow money, because they may be able to help students.

“There are options that students may not be aware of including loan forgiveness programs,” Rodriguez said. “The best thing to do is just communicate.”