New student loans won't face sharper increases — Congress stepped in at the last minute to keep interest rates from doubling this week.
Despite that effort, students are still leaving college owing more money than ever before.
Ashley Romine is an aspiring dentist and hopes to one day open her own practice.
"It's just something that I've always loved," said Romine.
Her parents paid for her undergrad. To go to dental school at VCU, she took out student loans.
"I personally see myself in debt for the next 10 years, minimum," said Romine.
And she won't owe just a few thousand dollars either. She's calculated, when she graduates, she'll leave with close to a quarter of a million dollars in debt.
"The burden of the debt weighs on us all the time. My mom, who's not even paying the bills, calls me and says, 'this is keeping me awake at night knowing that you're going to be owing this much money.'"
We obtained a copy of a chart that VCU gives its students. The school estimates dental school debt for in-state students at around $253,000. The chart even warns "costs are subject to inflation."
And VCU is actually one of the more affordable dental schools in the country — ranking 18th out of 56 public universities in the cost of tuition and fees.
The same study, from the American Dental Association, shows dental school costs nationwide have more than doubled in just 10 years.
Kristen Binette, with Call Federal, said most students don't think about repaying loans. "Usually it is once they hit graduation day that reality sets in and they realize, 'I have $23,000 to repay in student loans.' That is what the average student owes."
Ashley Romine is painfully aware of her loans and that she won't pay them off anytime soon.
"I mean, how are you going to start a life? Buy a house? Buy a practice? Start a family? Do anything, any of that, with that much debt?" asks Romine.
To be a dentist though — you have to be trained. So, this is the road she must take.
Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.
WWBT-TV NBC 12
P.O. Box 12
On Your Side
Video and Pics