GARDEN CITY, Kansas — With the rising price of higher education the majority of students turn to financial aid.
“If I hadn’t been eligible for the Pell Grant or student loans I just wouldn’t have been able to attend school, just plain flat and simple,” said Garden City Community College Graduate, Helen Weeks.
GCCC’s Financial Aid Director Kathy Blau said students shouldn’t take loans lightly. “Every time you borrow it is a responsibility. You’ve signed a promissory note, ‘I owe this money to someone’.”
For schools like GCCC it’s important to get students the money they need, but it’s also important to give them the tools to understand how to pay that money back.
“They should be informed,” said Blau. “They should know, ‘I’m borrowing this money it isn’t free.’”
GCCC continues to improve their default rate, while the National average has been rising since 2007.
Kansas schools as a whole are doing a good job with 8.3% of students defaulting, or failing to pay back loans, an impressive number compared to the National average of 14.7%.
7.9% of K State students default, 7% at WSU, and only 5.1% default at KU.
The low unemployment rates in rural Kansas can help keep graduates on track too. Garden City and K State said the economy plays a big part in all of it, but what they can control is informing their students, making sure they know all their options like applying to pay later.
“I would actually be able to defer, but I chose not to defer so it would take me less time to pay it all back,” said Weeks.
Based off predictions for the end of the fiscal year GCCC expects to improve its default rates by another 3%.