Financial Aid Woes

MASON CITY, Iowa – Now that your 2013 taxes are filed, it’s time to complete that FAFSA — the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Mason City High School held an open house Tuesday for folks who needed some extra assistance in completing the tough paperwork. Any area seniors and parents were welcome.

“I don’t remember going through all this process of student loans as much back then as I hear now and I know the cost of college is way more now then it was back then,” said parent Kim Kearns.

That’s Kearn’s reaction to having to complete all the paperwork that goes along with having a graduating high school senior. When Kearns went to business school she paid about $1,400 a semester. Now those averages range from $4,500 to a whopping $15,000.

It seems like every year the tuition goes up and grant programs stay about the same. Tuition is so high that more students are taking out student loans. Iowa has one of the largest student loan debt in the nation — 6th highest, actually. The average student with a 4-year degree graduates with about $28,000 in debt.

That’s according to College Access Network – a non-profit organization which assists students with choosing a college and finding ways to pay for it.

One Student Success Adviser had some hints for those who might have to borrow money.

“Every student is going to be offered a student loan but like I tell students, if you don’t need it, don’t borrow it. They are so easy to borrow and not necessarily so easy to pay back, ” said John Holland.

Holland says seniors, and those already in college, should always seek out grants and scholarships to lessen the loan burden.

One thing is for sure, parents are happy to have the service provided by Mason City high school because that paperwork can be tough to do on your own.

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