Savings plan eases college student debt burden

Students who attend college in the Palmetto State are burdened with, on average, more than $25,000 in student loan debt.

According to the most recent data presented by an independent research group's report, Project on Student Debt, out of all the four-year, public institutions in the state, Coastal Carolina University has the highest average student loan debt of graduates at $31,629.

This is something AJ Kammerer, a junior, marine science major at Coastal Carolina University, knows about. By the time he graduates, Kammerer will have around $25,000 dollars worth of debt accrued.

As a part-time surfing instructor, loans are something he's working to pay off now, but expects it will be difficult after graduation to continue paying his debt down because of the field he is in.

"From what I've heard from people coming out of Coastal with a marine science major, is that a lot of places where they want to get jobs requires them to have internship experience. So you need six months to a year of unpaid internships just to start making money," Kammerer said.

Kammerer said he plans to pay off his post-graduation student loans without the help of his parents.

However, some parents are looking at ways to help their children pay off student loans years before college, so their children aren't burdened with overwhelmingly high amounts of debt.

Cate Sutz is a mother of three children. Her oldest child is 14. Sutz said she worked several jobs to pay off student loan debts after she graduated from college.

She wants her children to know the value of an education, but she also wants to help them out.

"You know you want to put money aside for them so that they know they have the opportunity to go to college, if that's what they want to do," Sutz said.

The state offers an investment that parents and anyone planning to go to college should consider. It's a saving plan called Future Scholar, and 64,000 people who live in South Carolina are already enrolled.

"You put money in the account. You get a tax credit when it goes in there. It grows, it compounds over the lifetime of the investments, and when kids get ready to go to school, this will take it out tax-free," said South Carolina's State Treasurer Curtis Loftis.

Find out more about Future Scholar here.