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SPECIAL REPORT: Making Cents of it All

With cuts to higher education funding, tuition costs have risen for Louisiana students over the last several years.
Swartz -- With cuts to higher education funding, tuition costs have risen for Louisiana students over the last several years.

Some students turn to loans for help. But they come with a big price after graduation.

"When you're 18 and you're starting college, you just think money, you don't think about the payment back plan.

Maggie Generoso just finished her Master's Degree last year. She's paying $550 a month on her $42,000 loan.

"In addition to a mortgage and insurance and car notes and all of those things, it makes our expenses very tight..."

According to the Institute for College Access and Success, in 2012 Louisiana had the 10th lowest average student debt in the nation with $22,789.

Getting through the payments... Generoso is focused on the long-term and does not think reconsolidation would be her best option.

"it wouldn't be beneficial to consolidate because of the term of how long it takes not to mention you're paying almost what you owe in interest."

As a new mother, she has a target date in mind to finish her loan payments.

"I'm looking forward to that day that I write that last payment off. And hopefully that'll be before my 1-year old starts college."

Generoso believes her field of study will help reach that goal... the government offers loan forgiveness for certain full-time teachers.

"As an educator teaching in a title 1 school, this is my 5th year teaching. So, after this 5th year, I can be eligible to get $17,500 of my loans forgiven through the state department.

With extra savings, Generoso hopes to build a college fund for her son.

"Hopefully we'll be able to pay for a huge portion."

And she hopes that new college students follow this advice:

"If you can't pay for it out of pocket, maybe it's something you need to think about. Even like with my graduate degree, I wish we would have had enough put back that we wouldn't have had to take out the loans. We could've just paid for it out front. Because... the interest eats you alive."
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