December college graduates across Iowa are about to learn a new lesson in financial management as they enter the “real” world. Katherine Cota, program manager at the Papajohn Entreprenurial Center at the University of Northern Iowa, says many graduates aren’t prepared for the onslaught of bills, student loan payments and other expenses. Cota says debt can become a big problem for those who underestimate the cost of living in the world of “independence,” especially the cost of big-city rent. She says a friend who worked as the manager on the West Coast liked hiring Midwesterners because she knew she could hire them for less money than it’d cost to get people from the West Coast. Cota says despite the soft economy, soon-to-be graduates and job seekers in general shouldn’t be afraid to negotiate salaries with potential employers. One other tidbit of advice she offers to new grads: pay your bills on time as it’ll help you stay debt-free and have a good credit record.