Some local university students are stressing more about their post-secondary debt than finding a job.
Getting out of the hole after graduation is easier said than done for fourth-year University of Windsor student Shelby Toews.
"I'm already looking at how much debt I have and I'm like, 'oh, no,'" she said. "The main stress is being able to pay that off when you're done."
The 20-year-old has amassed $30,000 in debt and uses the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to fund her schooling.
"It's very stressful because not only are you worrying about your school and making sure your grades are high enough, but then you have to make sure you're getting a decent paying job so you can pay off your OSAP as soon as possible," said Toews.
Ontario's Finance Minister and Windsor-West MPP Dwight Duncan has some advice on how to manage student debt.
"Pay it off. Pay it off," said Duncan.
"We've doubled the amount of money for non-loan students since we've come to office. And $30,000 is a lot of money, I agree, but it's still a good investment," he said.
A poll of post-secondary students showed 27 per cent are more stressed about paying for school. That number is five percentage points higher than the 22 per cent of students who rank their biggest worry as finding a job, according to a Bank of Montreal survey.
The study also suggests 58 per cent can expect to graduate with about $20,000 in debt.
Toews said it can be very overwhelming at times to know there's a $30,000 debt hanging over your head.
"It's pressure from all sides because there is pressure to make sure you're doing good in school, but make sure you're still getting extracurricular, then you have to balance your job," said Toews.
"Everyone expects the best from you and sometimes you shut down because you can't do the best you can at everything all at once."
She helps manage the student residence building at the university, which gets her free rent and helps diminish the debt.
"It definitely helps offset the costs for school because you don't have to worry about paying your rent. So you only have to buy a meal plan and if you were living off campus you would have to buy groceries anyways," said Toews.
She's studying earth and environmental science with plans to get her masters after graduation and eventually get a well-paying job to pay off her university tab.
But she said developing debt isn't always a bad thing.
"With that stress you learn about how you handle different situations," said Toews.
The BMO study concluded that 32 per cent of students polled are having a tough time paying their bills while at school.
The Canadian Federation of Students said most people take 10 years to pay off their students loans.