A new way to explore student loan options is now available for prospective, current and former college students in Ohio.
The Ohio Attorney General’s office announced January 14 that Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office has developed a complete online student loan center to help students understand and manage loans. In response to the high level of average college debt, which prompted the website’s release, the Attorney General’s office decided to work with universities in Ohio to help fulfill their current needs.
“We think this could be of use for students and families in general,” Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s office, said. “We want to help people before their loans come due, so the hope is that this site helps them be prepared.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a report that revealed an outstanding student debt in the U.S. of approximately $1.2 trillion. Ohio is not exempt from the national trend, where 68 percent of students graduate with debt, and that debt averages to $29,090 per student.
“For many Ohioans, getting an education requires taking out loans,” DeWine said in a press release. “Student loans can help Ohioans get the education they need to reach their full potential, but far too often students leave school with substantial amounts of debt. The Attorney General’s Student Loan Center provides resources and tools to help consumers make smart borrowing decisions.”
The site has several pages dedicated to discussing how to handle money before, during and after college, as well as tips for finding the right college.
“We want to help people make smart decisions,” Tierney said. “These tools should help towards that.”
According to Tierney, the Attorney General’s office hopes to better educate Ohioans on what is available and what the restrictions on aid are when taking out a loan.
“We have a section on gift aid, which is better for the student, so we want to help them find it,” Tierney said.
Many students begin applying for scholarships by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is available in January each year. The Attorney General’s Student Loan Center has tips on all things college loan related, from where to start after filling out the FAFSA to rehabilitation after defaulting on loans. The site helps students by providing tips on college cost reduction, as well as budget and loan repayment calculators. The goal is to educate students before they start the process, so when they begin their FAFSA they will be better prepared for handling the loans.
The new site is available through the Ohio Attorney General’s website and comes with the caveat that many of the websites and links shown on the site are only relevant for federal government loans, meaning that any information for private loans may vary.