11FTCCI was asked to do a presentation last winter, and while doing my research, I stumbled across information that floored me. According to Forbes magazine, student loan debt in this country is second only to mortgage debt. Forty-four million people in the U.S. owe $1.56 trillion in student loan debt.

Of the 44 million who owe student loan debt, 11% of them cannot pay their student loans; they are in default. This example reminds me of taking out a car loan for a car you cannot drive. There is something seriously wrong with this situation. So, what do we as a nation do?

If these 4 million students who cannot pay their loans had begun their educational journeys at a community college, not only would their loans be significantly less in debt, chances are they could also pay on smaller loans with money earned from the jobs obtained after graduation. Earning a two-year degree in a trade skill such as welding or auto body repair not only ensures employment, it is more affordable. The same applies to a two-year degree in nursing or criminal justice.

If a four-year degree is the goal, students can begin their education at a two-year college and transfer to a four-year college. This can save them up to $20,000 or more a year in debt, depending on the four-year university. This is great news.

Fayetteville Technical Community College is currently registering students for the fall 2019 term, with classes beginning Aug. 19. Visit www.faytechcc.edu and click on the “Get Started” link at the home page. The link goes directly to the admissions page. Here, after you've completed the Residency Determination System process, you'll be directed to the free College Foundation of North Carolina application. Once the application is complete, FTCC sends an email to the email address used in the application. FTCC also sends a hard-copy letter to the physical address used by the student when completing the CFNC application.

Once the FTCC application is complete, the student should visit www.FAFSA.gov. The FAFSA services at this website are free. Students should be careful to ensure that the location is www. FAFSA.gov to avoid any charges; if there is a charge, then it is the wrong website. Apply for the academic year 2019/2020. Be prepared with tax documents. Most students who live at home will use their parents’ income information, but extenuating circumstances may result in needing different information.

In this high-tech world, FTCC recognizes face-to-face assistance is still important, and its staff are proud to offer the personal touch. FTCC offers over 280 degrees, diplomas and certificates. FTCC career and guidance counselors can help narrow a student's choices by providing a one-on-one career assessment for them. Once students have a pathway, FTCC will help them along the way. Assistance is available for steps like completing the FTCC application, financial aid and transcript evaluation processes, along with much more.

Call 910-678-8473 or visit FTCC at the Fayetteville Campus in the Tony Rand Student Center, the Spring Lake Campus, or the Ft. Bragg Training & Education Center.

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