These days, many college students end up taking out a substantial amount of loans in order to put them through college or to pursue higher education and wind up with substantial amount of student debt. This burden is undertaken on the belief (and hope) that a college education is going to lead to a decent paying work after graduation – one that will enable them to be able to pay off their student loans and still meet other financial obligations.
However, being able to successfully manage student loan debt is often easier said than done and many college graduates are unable to make student loan payments – at least not without sacrificing other financial desire or life advancement (like buying a home).
One of the best ways to manage student loan debt is to avoid having any – or at least finding ways to minimize how many loans you need to take out in order to pay for school.
You will find a lot of things that you can do before starting college and stuff you can do throughout your college years to keep the debt burden as least as possible.
Tips on Avoiding Student Loan Debt
- Apply for all the grants and scholarships you can
Scholarships are a monetary award that helps lessen the costs of continued education, enabling more people the chance to go to college or graduate school. Scholarships do not have to be repaid and are usually awarded for academic achievement; however, there are tons of scholarship opportunities available that are not academic based and have minimal requirements to apply for – but may be limited on how many recipients can be given the scholarship. These scholarships are often awarded to individuals who have different capabilities in things such as writing, arts, sports, and other aspects. Your financial aid counselor will walk you throughout the application of grant application and see if you can qualify.
Grants are similar to scholarships; they don’t need to be paid back and can be used in varying ways towards your furthered education such as tuition or books. The federal government is usually behind most grants and they are presented to individuals who have particular financial hardships. Some of the most common grants include the Pell Grant, FAFSA, and the SMART Grant.
- Apply for a paid internship or work-at-school program
Many internships are not paid and although they can provide great experience, they won’t help with your financial needs. Often times, because of the experience and connections you can gain from an internship, it may not pay as much as a traditional job but can still help financially as well as potentially providing you a career once you graduate.
Another option is going through your college for any work-at-school programs. Sometimes college professors, the college library, and some departments may offer paid positions for you to work between your classes. These are similar to internship but on-campus.
- Take it slow, don’t hurry
Everybody desires to graduate within four years – get in, get out, get a job, and get on with life. However, bear in mind that the longer you are enrolled, the longer you could put off repaying your student loans.
In addition, when you spread your coursework out a little longer, you may be able to work full time and pay for classes out of pocket (even partially) and minimized how much in loans you need (or save it to pay them off later).
- Save, save, save
Most college students have a job, even if it is just part time, while they are enrolled full time. Whenever you can, save! Set funds aside to help pay your loans that become due shortly after graduation. This will be one of the hardest things outside of your coursework to do. Especially if you live on your own or have other financial obligations.
Even if you don’t have much to spare, even $10 or $20 from each paycheck set aside, saved over 4-6 years can provide you with some money to rely on for student loan repayment.