Average student loan debt continues to climb to $29,400 - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Average student loan debt continues to climb

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CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Seven out of 10 college seniors graduated last year with student debt with each student borrowing an average of $29,400.

Last year, the average student from Coastal Carolina University graduated with about $34,000 of debt. This is well over the state average of $27,000 per student.

The report, The Project on Student debt, released by the Institute for College Access and Success, states that from 2008 to 2012, the average debt increased about six percent each year.

The cost to attend CCU right now is over $18,000 dollars per year but with time, this will change.

"Let's assume college inflation is running at seven percent, per year, essentially for four years of school in 18 years from now it's probably going to cost around $278,000, that's an exorbitant amount of money," says Shaun Walsh, financial advisor at Edward Jones.

That means you'll have to put aside over $600 per month, to fully fund your education goal.

Last year, college costs averaged nearly $18,000 dollars per year at public institutions and $40,000 at private institutions. These costs are expected to more than double in the next ten years.

Experts say you should rid yourself of this debt as soon as you can.

One way to do this is to plan in advance and take advantage of plans that assist in education funding, like the 529 Plan. This is also known as the Future Scholar Program, and it offers tax free growth on your college savings.

You can start the account in your name, contribute limitless funds to your kids and transfer the account to their name at any time.

South Carolina residents can take this program one step further,

"For instance, if you put 10 thousand dollars into a 529 plan, with a South Carolina plan and if you're a resident you can file a state tax return- you could potentially write 10 thousand dollars off your state income tax," says Walsh.

He also recommends using online calculators to estimate college costs.

Another tip, take advantage of scholarships. The South Carolina HOPE scholarship and The LIFE scholarship are two, well known to the Palmetto state.

Plan ahead to avoid owing money; 71% of college seniors last year graduated with an average of almost $30,000 of debt.

Experts say debt should not be a detriment towards getting a degree.

In 2011, those with college degrees earned around 80% more in hourly compensation than those of the high school degree, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

To see the full report of "The Project on Student Debt," by the Institute for College and Success, here: http://projectonstudentdebt.org/

For details on the Future Scholar Program:

http://www.futurescholar.com/

http://www.treasurer.sc.gov/citizens/saving-for-college/

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