Six years ago, Karyn Shantz signed up for an 18-month course in massge therapy.

It was a return to school after a long time away for the Wellesley woman.

As it turns out, ‘a long time away’ is also how she’d feel about when she could pay off the student loans she took out to afford tuition.

“I knew I would have to go through OSAP,” she tells CTV.

“Being married, a couple of kids, a mortgage – there’s not a lot of spare money.”

Shantz’s $15,000 loan falls well short of the $37,000 in debt the average student graduates with, according to the Canadian Federation of Students, but it won’t be until this fall – six years after she started the program – that it’s all paid off.

That loan doesn’t come without interest.

For a $20,000 student loan at three per cent interest and monthly payments of $200 per month – which are not Shantz’s terms – the loan would be paid off in about 10 years, but with more than $3,000 charged in interest fees.

Financial expert Pattie Lovett-Reid suggests configuring loans to shorter terms, as long as the higher payments are affordable.

“If you could reduce that to five years and you do that by doubling up the payment, go from $200 to $400 a month, you’re actually reducing your costs of interest down to about $1,300,” she says.

Despite the long repayment period and interest costs, Shantz says her loan was well worth it, because it enabled her to go back to school and ultimately help support her family.

“I didn’t regret it,” she says.

“I’m able to help with my family. I have my own business. I think, if it really is something you want to do, do it.”

CTV’s Rosie Del Campo is examining student debt in a four-part series airing this week on CTV News.