SALEM, Va. (WFXR) — Hundreds of high school seniors are graduating from Roanoke County this week. While this is an exciting time, it can also come with nerves and anticipation about the future for these students.
“I’m a little bit nervous but I think I am going to keep working where I work in Roanoke and commute back to Radford and come to Roanoke for working because I don’t want to be without money,” said Maggie Fields, a graduating student.
One major concern for some students is being hit with student loans following college. So, they are preparing and learning how to financially plan now.
“I would rather just have good financial aid in the first place, but of course, that isn’t available for every student and they give each student what they need and you have to make up the rest, which is scary for sure,” said Ella Vance, a graduating student.
Jim Martin, a financial advisor with Martin Wealth Solutions, said that students should remember they do not need to pay all of their student loan debt back in one day, but learning to manage their finances is a life-long project.
“One of the biggest challenges students face is when they enter the workforce, all of a sudden going out and buying a new house a new car new clothes a new everything and going into debt to do that, and just make sure as you are accumulating goods and your building your life that you are doing this very pragmatically,” said Martin. “The other thing is, look for careers that might have debt forgiveness.”
Aaron Basko, the Vice President of Enrollment Marketing and Communications at the University of Lynchburg, said there are ways schools can help. They have lots of resources students aren’t always aware of. He said they should start by filling out a FAFSA, which is a free application for federal student aid form. It allows students to request federal grants, work-study, and loans all in one application.
“You know, for example, if they go to any of the private institutions that are in the state of Virginia, you know that are nonprofits like we are, they probably will qualify for the VTAG grant, which is a five thousand dollar grant that they get just for being a resident in the state of Virginia,” said Basko.
Of course, not all these graduates will attend college. Many will find training for a skilled trade to become welders, electricians, or plumbers. These career paths can provide a nice income without having to go through thousands of dollars in debt for college.