Minnesota officials concerned about levels of college debt - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Minnesota officials concerned about levels of college debt

AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC)- In the next decade, more than 70% of all jobs will require a college degree, and that means a higher level of debt. Minnesota residents have one of the highest college debt levels in the country, but there state officials who are trying to help.

The average Minnesota student will take on just short of $30,000 of college debt, but how much is too much for higher education?

"Instead of students being able to buy a home, they're having to pay off their student debt," says Jeanne Poppe, a DFL representative from Austin. "You know, we want them to have lower debt and still be able to buy that house."

Officials agree that the numbers are getting too high, and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education made stops in Winona and at Riverland College in Austin to hear the students perspective

"Everything does cost so much money," explains Christine Schmidt, a Riverland College student. "Living, and food and school, just everything."

How did the State of Minnesota get in such a bind?

"Lack of tax dollars to higher education is being replaced with family debt," says Larry Pogemiller, the Director of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. "It's going to take us a few years to get out of that, but we need to do that because we're putting young people at risk now that when they enter the job market, they're entering with large debt-loads that are going to take years to pay off."

With the debt levels on the rise, there seems to be only one hope for future college students.

"Having that financial literacy, having that understanding that this is a consequence to borrowing money," explains Poppe. "But also, as a career counselor, I want them to understand what their goals should be and make good decisions, career decisions along the way."

No matter what college avenue a student chooses, officials agree one of the most important weapons is to remain educated on the type of loans and scholarships out there so students can help themselves lower their debt level.

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