Lightening the Load of Student Debt
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post written by Alex from Custom-writing.org
With the cost of a college education at even a public institution rising steadily, college loan debt is an unpleasant prospect for an increasing number of families and individuals. This can burden ambitious students for decades. How can we reduce this load? There are some practical steps to contemplate to help avoid or reduce the weight of financing a quality college degree. They can start with your choice of college, and may not end for some years after graduation, but the relief from debt may be worth it.
The scope of the problem:
Tuition at a community college is pushing the $5,000 level. One can count on triple that for a state institution. Private colleges can routinely charge double to quadruple the figure for public universities. As extreme examples, Bennington and Columbia University both suggest budgeting 61K for each year, for US citizens with only in-country travel expenses!
To fund these staggering costs, many families turn to loans. If the lender is not reputable, problems can multiply. Ideally, keep the loan amount to a minimum.
Some colleges admit qualified applicants without tuition. Although they are modest in number, they merit consideration, for example, if your musical talent qualifies you for the Curtis Institute of Music or your academics qualify you for Macaulay Honors College at CUNY. Some, like Berea College and Deep Springs College require that students work on campus. Although these are long shots, their application cost is less than full tuition elsewhere.
If your interests and temperament are congruent with those of the military, this is a highly attractive option for a free education. Examine the long term obligations and offerings of ROTC and military academies open mindedly.
Have you investigated all the institutions in commuting distance? This option saves substantially on living expenses.
Exploit community colleges:
Completing your first two years this way can be a bargain. Many such places have experienced increased demand from highly qualified students financially shut out of other options. Additionally, an Associate’s degree qualifies you for many jobs
Take advantage of the lower costs and varied offerings. These schools have the clout to hire good people.
Investigate all scholarship opportunities:
Although an exhaustive discussion is beyond the scope of this article, be assured that there is a lid for every pot and a grant for nearly every student. Start early, be persistent and take chances in finding that one scholarship that fits your profile.
Investigate no-loan grants:
Consider grants that are designed to reduce the amount of loans needed. For example, AccessUVA offers grants that do not include the expectation that the student will take out loans.
Take AP courses:
Any core course requirements that you place out of can reduce the credits for which you must pay. Alternatively, this strategy can at least free up credits for more specialized courses that will prepare you for your career.
Get a job:
Look for school year jobs that permit taking a full course load. Working for the college is ideal; nearby the college is a close second. For academic success, try keeping your work hours below 20 per week. Check that your credit hours remain high enough to continue to qualify you for grants such as the Pell grants.
Get a summer job:
If you can find a high-paying summer job that you can parlay into a post-graduation career, Mazel Tov, and congratulations. For the rest of us, we often must choose between these goals. Some high-paying summer jobs provide a great tan and get you in shape – house-painting and construction come to mind.
Spend the summer in class:
Some summer school tuition is lower per credit-hour and some colleges charge by semester. If you can reduce the number of school terms for which you have to pay, summer study is worth it.
Investigate colleges or programs offering internships:
Some colleges have internships, co-ops, and work-placements in many programs, others just in a few. Some internships are paid, which can offset college expenses nicely. Ask searching questions and choose with such possibilities in mind.
Revel in cheap:
Student-hood is a fabulous excuse for being temporarily super-cheap. This phase soon passes – enjoy saving money while you can – fashionably. Avoid car ownership, go vegetarian, use coupons, and exploit early meal discounts.
Reduce costs after graduation:
Postpone purchasing big-ticket toys like a plasma TV. Unless required for work, choose a used vehicle until you have your loans under control. Keep your residence simple, share space, or move back home. Find furnishings at thrift stores and tag sales, and take advantage of hostels while you are still young enough to enjoy them.
If you paid interest on a qualified student loan, or were supposed to, you may take a deduction. Best of all – it’s legal!
Avoid scamming debt consolidation offers:
Possibly the most effective strategy is to avoid unscrupulous lenders and so-called credit counselors. Please, please carefully check out all offers!
Begin planning and researching early, and make minimizing your loan debt an ongoing priority. This will help you ease this potentially strangulating burden.
Article by Jack Milgram: “I have been interested in writing since I made the acquaintance of pen and paper. As soon as I learned how to write words, I started forming them into sentences. And do you know what my first sentence said? “I love my words”. Later I started writing, but often left unfinished, many of my essays at school, as well as my researches at college, where I studied psychology and education. I started freelance writing when I was a student. I currently work for Custom-Writing.org (http://custom-writing.org), my frequent posts go live on their Twitter (http://twitter.com/CusWriting). Be sure to check out my writing tips and tricks!
Image credited to: la.indymedia.org
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