By Alan Prahl

Many people with student loan debt wonder if they are making the best choice or if there’s a better way to deal with their loans. In a national survey, 69% of young professionals said they were confused about student loan repayment options.

The Financial Information and Service Center (FISC) is offering a free workshop to help people learn more about repayment options. This no-cost, no-obligation workshop will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Appleton Public Library, 225 N. Oneida St.

Student loan debt is a common problem. About 70% of college students borrow money to go to school, and the total college debt nationally is now nearly $1.3 trillion. More than 750,000 people in Wisconsin have federal student loan debt, thousands more have private student loans, and 9.9% of student loans in Wisconsin are in default.

The average college graduate finishes school owing more than $30,000 on student loans. Payments of $250 to $300 a month are common. Some people have mortgage-size student loan payments of $600 a month or more.

The repayment options are confusing. Federal and private student loans have different rules. A few choices include graduated repayment plans, extended repayment plans and income-based repayment plans. People with limited incomes may qualify for a student loan deferment, or they may have a partial financial hardship that would qualify them for a pay-as-you-earn plan. Some people wonder if they should aggressively pay down debt. While that can be a good financial move, not everyone has the ability to do this.

While the choices can be confusing, the good news is that advice is available through nonprofit Consumer Credit Counseling agencies. FISC’s financial counselors offer workshops and one-on-one advice to help people understand their options with student loan and other debt.

At the Dec. 6 workshop, we will talk about strategies to reduce the total cost of loans, what to do if making payments is a problem and explore repayment and loan forgiveness options.

Space is limited. To register or for more information call 920-886-1000.