The cost of college: Ohio leads the nation in college debt

The cost of college: Ohio leads the nation in college debt

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Do you want to go to college in Ohio? It's going to cost you big time.

In fact, Ohio is at the head of the class when it comes to student debt and near the top when it comes to defaulting on student loans.

We hear all the time that education is the key, the way out and the way up. Apparently, what many people haven't learned is how to get a good education without going broke in the process.

"Ohio is one of the highest states from a tuition perspective," says Angela Johnson.

Few know that better than Angela, the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid at Tri-C.  According to a recent survey by WalletHub, the Buckeye state has the most student debt in the U.S. and 13th in the percentage of student loans past due or in default. But there are ways to pay less and get more.

"Using scholarships to help fund their education. Helping students who have to borrow student loans get better educated," adds Johnson.

Johnson says think about the end before you begin.

"What job they may have when they graduate. How much that salary could be and what the loan repayment looks like so they really go into the situation well informed."

And no, you don't have to be a brainiac in order to qualify for scholarships.

Johnson said, "Think about community, looking at civic groups that provide scholarships and certainly there are a lot of athletic scholarships. Quite honestly, some of it could be as simple as writing an essay telling about things that may have been a challenge for you."

Don't forget about grants, government and work-study programs that can help you pay for college. Johnson says get started early, even as early as eighth-grade.

"There are lots of website sites, including the U.S. Department of Education that help students and families estimate how much their financial aid could be based on today's financial aid costs."

Some schools cost between $25,000 to $40,000. Community colleges, including Tri-C offer a great alternative for your first couple of years.

"And our costs in terms of tuition and books is about $5,000 for an academic year," says Johnson.

Also think about trying to refinance your student loan at a lower rate. Angela Johnson says the state has done a really good job making sure credits from community colleges transfer to four-year public institutions while costing much less.

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