PHOENIX -- It's that time of year when many college students are getting ready to graduate. But for many, graduation also means it's time to start thinking about paying off their debts.
But there's a program that can help eliminate your loans if you’re having a hard time paying them off.
"I have somewhere between $20 to $30K in loans," said Robert Acosta, a senior at ASU.
According to College InSight, by their fourth year in college, students in Arizona have an average of just over $20K of debt. But many students actually go well over that number.
"$24K, and this is my freshman year; it'll just quadruple from here on," said Eloise Bacon, a nursing student.
Joe Gleason with Gleason financial group said the key is to start saving well in advance. "The earlier you save, the more that you have time on your side to be able to accumulate the dollars that you're going to need to go to school," said Gleason.
Sounds simple enough, but not every family can do that. "My parents always knew that I was going to go to school, and they always pushed me to get my undergraduate degree. They just didn't know how," said Stephanie Rosa, a junior at ASU.
"Currently I'm all on loans," says Rosa. Over $50K worth, but Rosa said she's done the research and now has a plan. "I’ve really enjoyed being in the non-profit field," she says. "I'm actually looking at Teach for America. I've looked at the loan forgiveness," said Rosa.
"It's not difficult if you qualify, but it's not necessarily going to wipe out the debt. What they do is, in most cases, put you on a payment program," said Gleason on loan forgiveness.
You can apply for loan forgiveness if you’re a teacher or work in public service.
"But you have to make 120 payments continuously," said Rosa.
That’s before your balance can be eliminated. To see if you can qualify for loan forgiveness you need to talk to your loan provider.
There are also programs that can help you while you're in high school prepare for college costs by helping you research scholarships and the programs that provide mentoring/tutoring. One of those programs is called Aguila.
Here is a link to their information.