It's that time of year again, when new and returning students start thinking about debt.
Many post-secondary students will have to take out loans for not just education, but living expenses as well during their time at school.
Debra Tworek, Director of Program supports for Student Aid Alberta, says the numbers for students applying for assistance is on the rise.
"From 2014-2015 to 2015-2016, we did see an increase of about 12% and we think we might see an increase around 9% this year," she says. "The government has budgeted about $579 million for student loans, and we're thinking that we'll see approximately 77,000 students come to us this year."
Student loans can be intimidating at times, for many this is their first a loan, and the first time they are responsible from a financial perspective.
Tworek explains understanding how and when interest and payments will start is simple if you follow the student loan life cycle.
"While you're in school you're not required to make any payments, nor are you charged interest during that time period. Obviously students go to school, they go for a number of years, so they go into what's considered a grace period, and then when they go back to school the next year they are back in an in study period."
She says a student will only start getting charged interest on their loan following a six month grace period after they have finished.
Even with a grace period, the debt incurred over a few years of post secondary education can make for a daunting situation, but there are options if an individual is feeling overwhelmed.
"Student debt is always a concern, and we don't want to see graduates feeling unduly burdened with debt when they get out of school. But if they do have trouble paying off their loan, the best advice I can supply is for them to stay in contact with us through the service centres, we do have repayment assistance plans, and a student can apply for repayment assistance."
Repayment assistance plans are created on a case by case basis, personalizing a plan to any situation, these plans can last up to six months before an individual must re-apply for assistance.
These plans can include; changing payment due date to match pay periods, increasing loan payments to help them pay off their student loan earlier, lowering the monthly payments to help them make ends meet, they can also adjust the frequency of their payments.
While applying for a loan at a bank may seem like a simpler process than using Student Aid Alberta, it may not be your best option.
"If you apply through student aid you may also infact qualify for grant money, and grant money is non repayable money. When somebody applies they're assessed for government student funding to determine if they're eligible for both Alberta, and Canada grants."
Tworek stresses there are always options, and believes there are no dead ends, as long as a student contacts Student Aid Alberta for help.
"We greatly encourage students to not be afraid to stay in touch with us, because in fact we are there to help them through that process."
You can also call 1-855-606-2096 for information on financial assistance.