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      Officials say student debt can be avoided

      State funding for colleges and universities has decreased in the past couple of years.

      Local officials said it's a challenge for them to keep operating without increasing tuition and other fees.

      Students are being asked to pay more on a yearly basis, and students like, Sabrina Meck Senior WTAMU Mass Communication Major, have to deal with the burden of more student debt, and living on campus.

      "That was to me not the greatest decision because it's racking up student loans that really, it's not beneficial to my education at all," said Meck.

      Having learned from Sabrina's experience, her mother Catherine said she now has a heads up on what's to come.

      "My third child Lily is about to graduate and she goes to Canyon High School, so we're looking at the different colleges and how we're going to pay her student loans and that type of thing," said Catherine. "We're really looking at the community college level."

      Amarillo College officials said they know all too well how a lack of funds can affect their students.

      "We know that it does affect our students. No question about it," Robert Austin Student Affairs Vice President. "It hits them the hardest, a lot of these students who qualify to receive Pell grants and student loans, in a lot of cases, that's not enough to make ends meet."

      In order to help their students, they have increased the pay scale for student's workers, and hired a social services coordinator to help guide them in the right direction, financially.

      They also teach financial literacy, a term that can help you stay ahead before you go under.

      "They just need to be very careful that what they're borrowing is not more than they actually need to pay for tuition fees," Keith Brown Opportunity Plan Executive Director. "And room and board if they're living on campus or rent and groceries if they're living off campus."

      Officials say that while they consider student debt an investment, it's important for students to make the right choices based on their education goals and situation.