Student Debt: Some graduates regret choosing expensive schools, not applying for more scholarships

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Go to college!

It’s what parents tell their kids in hopes of a bright future.

But that dream, has Americans drowning in almost $1.5 trillion of debt.

Dianna Ryan,31, of Fort Myers did everything right.

She attended got good grades, attended a state school and worked during college.

“I was able to get the 75 percent bright futures scholarship,” Ryan said.

Still, come graduation day, she owed $23,000.

Almost a decade later, she’s still paying $300 a month on her student loans.

“I think this is the first year I can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

But Ryan says some of her friends pay even more.

That’s why when she plans social outings, saving money is always on her mind.

From playing sports intramural sports to watching local teams on nights when there are specials, making ends meet is a top priority.

The typical amount of education debt in 2017 was between $20,000 and $25,000, according the Federal Reserve.

But is the price tag worth the payout?

WINK asked viewers in an online survey, and more than half said that they wish they went to a different school or considered a trade school.

Forty percent said they either didn’t apply for any scholarships or wish they applied for more.

Dunbar High School counselor Heather Davis begs students to apply for the free money.

“The scholarship deadlines are fast approaching.”

Still, cash goes unclaimed.

“I post them online, email them to students, email them to parents,’ Davis said.

That type of money, Davis says, can be life changing.

“Every year, easily, there’s about million dollars left out on the table.”

Ryan’s message to prospective college student — claim it.

“Do anything you can because you don’t want to be my age 31, 32 and having to pay this back.”

We’ve provided links to local scholarships and grants available to students:


Foundation for Lee County Public Schools

Collier County Public Schools Scholarships

Southwest Florida Community Foundation

CollegeBoard Grants and Scholarships

Make A Difference Award

Big Arts 2019 Performing & Creative Arts Scholarship

Voices of Naples

Golden Futures Scholarship

FIG Scholarship Essay Contest

Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Scholarship

Lee County School Counselors Association

University & college scholarships

Florida Gulf Coast University

Florida SouthWestern State College

Florida State University

University of Florida

University of South Florida

University of South Florida

This story was originally published on Feb. 7, 2019.

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