College today is an investment. Depending on the college you wish to attend, the investment may exceed that of a starter home, which is why many students finish their college experience in debt.
There are several moves you can make to help you pay for college or reduce the overall costs of attending college, including the following:
- Seek out scholarships. Apply for every scholarship for which you feel qualified. You may be amazed at the number of scholarships available.
- Take advantage of grants. There are federal grants for college such as the federal Pell Grant program, as well as state, and sometimes school grants. Grants are the type of scholarship that do not have to be repaid and are often renewable as long as you maintain a certain GPA.
- Consider online classes. Not only do online classes often offer a better price point than attending college at a traditional university setting, but they are also more flexible, allowing you to accommodate a busy schedule while getting your education.
- Start at a community college. Community colleges often specialize in the trades or have lower general education requirements. Attending a community college allows you to transfer those inexpensive credits to a more expensive university for your junior and senior years. If that is the plan, you will want to make sure that the credits you take at your community college are accepted at your target university.
- Stay in-state for college. Attending a state college in your home state is often the most financially advantageous thing you can do. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, private college tuition hovers at the $35,000 mark, while in-state tuition rests just over $25,000. That's a difference of approximately $10,000 per year for tuition and fees (not counting room and board).
- Live at home while in college. According to The Atlantic, the costs of room and board can exceed the annual cost of tuition by 100 percent or more. Avoiding this expense can help free up your finances.
The more things you do to reduce your costs when attending college, the higher your odds of eliminating the need to take on student loan debt.
Minimizing Student Loan Debt
Following the steps above for reducing your costs of attending college can go a long way toward minimizing student loan debt. So can working and building up your savings to put toward tuition. The more money you pay toward tuition today, without taking out student loans, the less you pay for your education overall.
Another piece of information to keep in mind is that with almost every other type of loan, you have the option of declaring bankruptcy or seeking relief from the debt. It works that way for homes, vehicles, and even consumer credit card debt. However, there is no option to discharge student loan debt. Falling behind in student loan payments can harm your credit history and impact your ability to obtain loans in the future.
These efforts to reduce expenses can help you to reduce student loan debt, allowing you to begin your career unencumbered by debt.