The average student loan debt sits right around $29,000, according to a report by the Institute of College Access & Success’ Project on Student Debt.
Depending on your choice of school and your choice of major, this number could be astronomically higher.
In the meantime, the Chronicle of Higher Education found that roughly 20 million students attend college each year and that out of those 20 million, 12 million take out loans.
While college is extremely important in order to help you land a job, graduating with tens of thousands of dollars of debt is never ideal. It’s always best to borrow the absolute minimum amount of money that you need. However, student loans don’t have to break you and here are some advices how to successfully obtain them and repay them.
Tips on lowering student loan debt
It’s tempting to want to borrow whatever amount you qualify for (which is always significantly more money than the cost of tuition).
You may convince yourself you can pay it back later and that you only experience college once, so you should live it up. This way of thinking is exactly what will get you into too much debt.
With average salaries of new graduates being $45,000 per year, making a massive loan payment each month may not be possible.
According to the article “Paying For College: 3 Things To Know About Federal Student Aid,” it’s important to note that loans are not your only option and that there are multiple loan options available and no matter what type of loan you take out, it’s going to need to get repaid.
To help keep student loan debt to a minimum the below mentioned options should be considered:
- Look into grants – Grants are essentially free money from the government to go towards schooling. The two main grants in the US are the Pell, which is dependent on income level, and the TEACH grant, which is geared towards students who will teach elementary or secondary school in a low-income area. Unlike loans, grants do not have to be repaid, as long as you pass the class and meet the requirements of the grant.
- Get a scholarship – Ask your advisor for a list of scholarships you may qualify for. There are scholarships for just about every type of student out there – including those majoring in science, single moms, those or a certain height and more. It’s worth to invest your time into applying for scholarships since, like grants, scholarship money do not need to be repaid.
- Get a part-time job – Going to school is tough, going to school while working is even tougher. As proven by millions of students each year, though, it’s possible. At the very least, get a part-time job to pay for your food and living expenses, so you don’t need to rely on loans for anything other than tuition. You could also consider going to school online and working full-time.
- Live as cheaply as possible – Most college students do have the attitude that now is the time to “live it up.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead of “living it up” on borrowed money and racking up debt, live as cheaply as you possibly can. This may mean skipping the bars on weekends and drinking with friends at home, cooking at home instead of dining out, purchasing clothing from second-hand stores instead of new and using the library instead of buying the new MacBook Pro.
In order to gradate college with as little debt as possible, you need to make daily sacrifices now for the betterment of your future. Very few students graduate debt-free, but imagine the freedom you’ll have if you’re one of them.
About the Author: Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Glendale, AZ. She writes on personal finances, student debt and saving money.