PINE BELT, Miss. - A recent study by Wallet Hub found that Mississippi ranked number 9 in the country for students in debt.
The student revealed, "And with 11% of all student-loan debts in delinquency or default, graduates need to be selective with where they apply their degrees."
University of Southern Mississippi Financial Aid Director, David Williamson said students graduating from Southern on average have an $18,000 to $20,000 loan to pay back.
Williamson believes that jobs in Mississippi are limited which accounts for the high student debt ranking. "Prospects within Mississippi are very competitive, they are not financially sound as some out of state jobs" said Williamson.
The study evaluated location as a factor for its findings:
"Location, location, location are the three most important words in real estate — and in education. Indeed, where you live doesn’t just affect the value of your property; it also reflects the worth of your college degree, the same degree that may have put you in debt" according to Wallet Hub.
He added, "So there is fewer jobs right now for graduates in Mississippi and lower income, so they graduate, not preparing, not thinking about that and they have this debt."
Williamson said not to think of education as a debt, but an investment rather. He said Southern Miss is in the process of implementing more financial aid awareness for their students.
"We are beefing up our programs with our new Student Retention program office to work on some financial literacy" added Williamson.
He said the goal of the program is to assist students with budgeting and to understand the importance of finances like student loans.