Congrats on that degree Hawaii grads, now get ready to pay for it

Congrats on that degree Hawaii grads, now get ready to pay for it

By Kristy Tamashiro
HNN Spring Intern

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -- After they get their diplomas and are showered with lei, this year's college graduates will be hit with a not-so-nice reality from their time in school: Student loan payments.

Behind mortgages, student loans are the second-highest form of household debt, totaling $1.31 billion nationally at the end of 2016.

The good news: Student debt on Oahu is significantly lower than on the mainland, according to a new analysis from WalletHub.

In fact, about half of recent college graduates in Hawaii left school with no student loan debt, another recent survey found.

WalletHub put the median student debt in Honolulu at $18,248, and the median earnings for bachelor's degree holders at $46,337.

The city with the highest debt in the nation was Ypsilanti, Mich. There, the median student debt was $24,339.

With graduation around the corner, Hawaii's college seniors said their looming student loans were a concern.

"Since I'm not from here I had to take some loans out to pay for housing," UH student Drew Afualo said.

"My parents had me at a young age and no college fund was set up for me. I'm just going to wait to get a job. My parents took it (the loan) out for me so I want to hurry and pay that off for them so they don't have to worry about it."

Bianca Smallwood, who will graduate Saturday from the University of Hawaii, said she's hoping to get a job soon so she can start paying off her loans.

"I don't have to start making payments on them until six months after I graduate and they're all subsidized so they weren't earning any interest while I was in school," she said.

According to College Factual, undergraduates at UH-Manoa take out about $26,332 on average.

About 37 percent of undergraduates at UHM rely on student loans, College Factual said.

UH officials said the university has an employment office aimed at helping students start their job search before graduating.

They also warn that procrastinating on paying off college loans could cause serious damage to your credit. In cases of loan default, the federal government could even withhold a paycheck or Social Security payments.

The map below ranks U.S. cities based on student loan debt:

Source: Wallethub

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