The Perks vs. Pitfalls of Student Loans

By Arkansas Next on Friday, April 5, 2024


  • You’ll be able to go to college.
  • They’re easy to get (no credit check!).
  • There are specialty loans for specific schools and degree programs in Arkansas.*
  • They help you build credit.
  • You can focus on school; you won’t have to work at the same time.
  • You can use loan money for tuition, books, school supplies, room and board, laptops, etc.
  • You have a long time to pay them off.
  • In certain cases, student loans can be forgiven (like  for Arkansas teachers!).
  • Sometimes payments can be deferred; you can apply to take a break from monthly payments.


  • You start your adult life with debt.
  • If you don’t graduate, you still have to pay it off.
  • Compounding interest makes these loans very expensive in the long run.
  • You have to choose a degree carefully to ensure you’ll earn enough to pay the debt off.
  • Your first paychecks will cover your monthly student loan payment. (You’ll have to wait to enjoy some luxuries for the time being.)
  • If you don’t make your payments on time, you can ruin your credit score.
  • Even if loan payments are deferred, the compounding interest continues to accrue monthly.

*Visit the Arkansas Student Loan Authority's website for more on local specialty loans (


$13.4 billion total student debt in Arkansas

400,000 student loan debt borrowers in Arkansas 

$33,333 average owed by arkansas student loan borrowers

53% percentage of graduates living in the state with  student loan debt

11% percentage of graduates that defaulted in the first 12 months of repayment

$296 average monthly student loan payment in Arkansas

1 in 5 Americans are  still paying their student loans

Sources: U.S. Department of Education (June 2023), Education Data Initiative (2023),, The Wall Street Journal