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Study: Students, parents find student loan financial aid process stressful

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A new study released today by Citizens Bank finds that a large majority of students and families across the country are more stressed by the loan process than by actually applying to college, while more than half do not fully understand the student loan financial aid process.

The online survey of more than 2,000 Americans aged 18 and over showed that Millennials in particular found the process both confusing (74 percent) and stressful (76 percent) with more than half (53 percent) of Millennials and 60 percent of parents and others pointing to lengthy and unclear paperwork as the source of confusion and stress. Difficulty understanding legal and financial terminology followed close behind. The great majority of respondents indicated that the process would be less stressful if they could speak to a financial professional about their student loan application.

“Students and families today are grappling with the rising cost of college and many don’t know where to begin when it comes to navigating the financial aid process. While going off to college is an exciting time, figuring out how to fund an education can be daunting,” said Christine Roberts, head of student lending for Citizens Bank. “Talking to someone who is experienced with the financial aid process is one of the best ways to be prepared and to alleviate the stress that comes from not understanding your options, but many people don’t think to ask their financial professional or banker for advice.”

Detailed survey findings include:

  • 71 percent of those that have been through the student loan application process consider it more stressful than the actual college application process.
  • 52 percent do not fully understand the student loan process.
  • 81 percent indicated that the process would be less stressful if they could speak to a financial professional about their student loan application.
  • Three in four Americans (75 percent) and 80 percent of Millennials worry about their ability to pay back their student loans.

While those surveyed indicated they turn to college/university financial aid offices (53 percent) and federal student loan websites (53 percent) for guidance and advice, many (57 percent) would prefer to speak with financial professionals for advice on paying for college.

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