InvestigateTV – About 1.3 million high school graduates are expected to enroll in a four-year university in 2022 and 42% of those students are expected to take out student loans, according to a new study Nerd Wallet.

Elizabeth Renter, a data analyst at the firm, said $39,500 was what a senior graduate could borrow to earn their bachelor’s degree over the next four years.

“What’s important to note is that this is a conservative estimate,” Renter said. “We only looked at public four-year universities, which are generally more affordable than private institutions. We based this estimate on what students are currently taking out, which is not the total cost of attendance.

She said every year all students should complete FAFSA, the free application for federal student aid. Renter said the FAFSA not only opens the door to federal grants and student loans, but many states and institutions use this data to determine additional potential aid.

“Grants and scholarships are free money,” Renter said. “They don’t come with interest, you don’t have to pay them back, so they’re definitely a scholarship priority.”

She said your applications should not stop the first year.

“Also, the upper classes should remember that they also have to keep looking,” Renter said. “There are often scholarships for sophomores, juniors, and seniors.”

She said if you need student loans, consider federal student loan options first rather than private loans and also explore federal work-study options. Your FAFSA application will ask if you are interested in the program.

The FAFSA application period opens on October 1 for the upcoming school year and is now open for the 2022 – 2023 academic year.