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Ways to Avoid Hefty Student Loan Debt*

Thinking of enrolling in college for the first time or going back to school but not sure how to pay for it without taking on a huge amount of debt? Everyday we hear about the student loan debt crisis in this country but yet people still go about going to school by continuing to do the same things that are causing the younger generation to delay buying a home, delay starting a family, delay investing due to taking out student loans…

I want you to know that you do not have to go into a huge amount of debt. There are many options out there to decrease your risk of incurring high student loan debt.

 

My personal story.

I’ve personally never had to take out a student loan. It wasn’t because my family was rich or that I had a full scholarship. I’ve always disliked debt and found ways to limit the amount I have to pay for school.  For me, I went to community college for a little over  2 years even though I got accepted to other schools because it was the most financially responsible thing for me.  It took me over 2 years to finish because I also worked during this time. I looked at the bigger picture. I realized working gave me experience on top of my education. How often do we see job postings that are entry level looking for experience? I always kept that in the back of my mind. It may have taken me longer to finish getting my degrees but I had not debt, worked throughout my entire college career and that made it easier for me to get jobs and end up working in a career that pays well. After going to community college and getting my associates degree, I transferred to a state university. I could have went to a private school or a more well known/respected school but I knew that wouldn’t guarantee me success or a job. I was confident enough in myself that having the degree and experience put me one step ahead of some of those with zero experience while saving money on large tuition expenses. I also stayed home during my college years to avoid additional costs. By the time I got to a state university, I worked for a job that offered tuition reimbursement. I was able to take courses that I initially paid for out of pocket but was reimbursed the tuition costs from my employer. I also work at an employer( who I am currently still with) that has their own credit union who allows you to fill out the tuition reimbursement form, take out a loan and if you pass with a C or better in your course they will reimburse you so that loan gets paid off without you having to pay out of pocket. So if you don’t have the money to pay out of pocket you can take out a loan but expect to be reimbursed as long as you pass the course.

 

Different ways to lessen your costs of attending school

  1. Job outlook & choosing a major

Before choosing a major , decide on a few different fields you will like to work in and what degree they require. Next, research those particular fields and degrees to get an outlook on that career path in the upcoming years. It’s pointless to get a degree in something you will not be able to find a job doing. Even if it is something that you enjoy, you can always still do it as a hobby. If you are risking going into debt wouldn’t you prefer to have some kind of guarantee you can find places hiring that will pay well when you graduate?

  1. Scholarships & Financial Aid

Check if you qualify for financial aid. If you do , that is great, if not you can find local & national scholarships to apply for at your school, place of work, local library or via the web. The internet has leveled the playing field. There are tons of scholarships available and some that go unclaimed because people do not take advantage of them. There are scholarships that are specific to majors, gender, ethnicity, income, location and more. Why not take advantage of free money if it is being offered?

  1. Gain experience through working or internships

It has become normal to job search and see entry level jobs require 1 plus years of experience on top of having a degree. I often question this and try to comprehend how can a position be entry level if it requires experience. You spend 4 years focusing 100% on your studies to get good grades but not qualify for a position because you have zero work experience. I suggest getting a part time job or finding an internship in your field of interest. If you have a heavy workload at school you can also decide to work during the summer break. Another option after graduating high school is to take a year off to work and save money or go to school part time while working. This will give you work experience and the option to gain income to go towards your tuition or loans.  Do not underestimate the power of getting hands on experience in your prospective field.

Going to college is one the first major decisions you will make as an adult.  It should be a decision that you put thought into and research. Why not start off your financial health on the right foot?

 

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