January 26, 2010 | Students are protesting the increasing tuition costs in California, but most students across the country are forced to shell out the money to cover the increasing costs of their education. Two-thirds of students are in debt at graduation. Most college graduates struggle for more than ten years to pay off their student loans. The College Board reports that student borrowing more than doubled in the past decade to $86 billion. In 2008, the average debt for graduating seniors was $23,000. “We were always told that education was the most important, no matter what the cost,” says Chris Kirkham, education analyst at ClassesandCareers.com, a free college information service. “Now students find themselves feeling completely overwhelmed by all of their student loans.” Students who have a lot of debt are usually the same ones who don’t know how to secure free money from grants and scholarships, in addition to getting parental support. Rebecca Porter, director of enrollment at Indiana University, says, “Part of the problem is that students coming in as freshmen do not understand smart borrowing habits.” Students do not understand rapid increasing interest as well as fees that are a percentage of the total loan. Interest on federal loans starts at 5.8 percent and runs significantly higher for private loans. Half of the students who graduate without debt took advantage of university or national scholarships and Pell Grants. Porter continued, “If students took the time to see what scholarships and grants they are eligible for, there would be a whole lot less student debt.” If you are interested in learning more about tuition, financial aid, or online courses, complete our form here. A academic adviser will answer your questions about scholarships, grants and financial aid. Our site has helped more than 50,000 students enroll in universities and get on the right track.