NC’s Incoming College Freshmen Unsure About Student Loans

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NORTH CAROLINA — The transition to college is a monumental step for many high school seniors across the country. Seventeen Magazine, with the help of The College Board, recently surveyed more than 110,000 students to discover what’s on the minds of incoming freshmen as they continue their educational journey.

The students were asked about everything from the cost of college to expectations for dorm life to their major field of study. For many, a big concern is how they’re going to pay for their college educations. Out of the incoming freshmen in North Carolina who responded to the survey, 43 percent said they planned to take out student loans. That number is slightly higher than the 40 percent national average, according to the survey.

The survey went to graduating high school seniors during April and May of 2019. Not all of the approximately 110,000 students who completed the survey responded to every question. Additionally, states weren’t ranked on questions that received fewer than 50 responses.

Seventeen Magazine and The College Board ranked the findings nationally, but broke down the data by state at Patch’s request.

Here’s what high school seniors in North Carolina said last spring about continuing on to college:

  • How many four-year colleges/universities did you apply to? 6.4
  • Are you planning on taking out loans to help pay for college? 43 percent said Yes
  • How would you rate your level of concern? 51 percent were very concerned
  • What was the hardest part of the college process? Figuring out how to get financial aid or scholarships
  • Which part of dorm life are you most nervous about? Getting along with roommates
  • Are you planning on working a job while in college? 66 percent said yes
  • What was your most stressful part of high school? College planning
  • How many scholarships did you apply for? More than three
  • Why do you want to major in your field of choice? Passion for subject
  • Do you know the steps you need to take before your career begins? 49 percent said they were pretty sure they understood the steps needed to take
  • How often did teachers in high school assign you grades higher than deserved? 43 percent said “sometimes”

The final question was, “How much of an impact did the potential to save money in college have on your decision to take AP (advanced placement courses)?” In North Carolina the top answer was “strong impact.”

In total, 80 percent of graduating seniors said the biggest challenge facing them is the cost of college tuition and student loan debt, according to Seventeen Magazine. On a national scale, the survey also found that a staggering 90 percent of respondents are “very or somewhat” concerned about going into debt after graduation.

Despite these high figures, one-third of respondents didn’t apply for scholarships. Seventeen said they cited both “lack of time and information as well as lack of need as the main reasons why they opted not to” seek scholarships.

The survey also found that on average, students applied to six colleges or universities, about the same as students from North Carolina applied to. Overall, more than 50 percent of high school seniors who responded to the survey were nervous about the social aspect of college.

Patch reporter Gus Saltonstall contributed to this report.

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