The cost of college tuition has skyrocketed in recent years. Students are faced with higher education costs, fewer employment opportunities and less financial help from mom and dad. Many turn to student loans as an alternative way to fund their higher education. But there are other options.
Tips to Avoid Huge Student Loans
If you are looking into colleges, you know that a four year education at any private or even public institution comes with a hefty price tag. Students who want the experience of living at college can expect to pay anywhere from $20,000 a year and up just to get a degree. In previous years, college was much more affordable than it is today. Students were given opportunities to attend college by getting assistance from family members and grants from state and government organizations.
But the economic downturn of recent years has put a squeeze on many of these education funding options for prospective students. In fact, student loans have become more popular than ever and are a common way for college kids to fund their educations. But when they graduate, they are often faced with large amounts of debt and not enough income to pay it all back.
Alternatives to Student Loans
So what should today’s student do if they do not want to take out a student loan? Below are several alternatives to student loan funding:
- Community College – Although this may not have the same appeal as living at college, community colleges provide educational curriculums on par with many universities but for a lot less money. Students can live at home and work while they attend school and in most cases, students can transfer to a university after attending community college for two years. This gives them time to save on education costs and put money aside for the expense of a university.
- Work – Most kids today forget that their parents and grandparents had to work when they were teenagers. Whether you work while you are in high school or college, or perhaps participate in a work study program, there are a number of ways to earn money while attending college that can prevent you from having to take out a student loan.
- Scholarships – Every community has organizations that offer scholarships to students. The internet makes it even easier for graduates to apply for scholarships throughout the world. Students should take advantage of every opportunity to receive scholarship money as an alternative to a student loan because scholarships are financial gifts that do not get paid back.
- Grants – Although you may not qualify for many grants, you may qualify for some with certain colleges and not with others. This could make a significant difference in the overall cost of tuition. Check to see what you are eligible for at different colleges and consider that before you decide which school to attend. Grants, like scholarships, do not get repaid and can be applied directly to the overall expenses you incur in college.
- Budget – When students head to college, they are taking their first steps into the world of adulthood. Part of becoming a responsible member of society is learning how to be responsible with money. Learning how to develop and stick to a budget is a great way for students to stay on track with the limited finances they have during college and can help them avoid getting into financial trouble.
- Resident Advisor Status – Resident Advisors are students who live in the dormitories on campus and manage the other residents. They are usually upper classmen and are required to be in the dormitory during certain hours. But these positions allow students to receive huge discounts on housing and tuition and can help drastically reduce the overall cost of college.
- Distance Learning – Online college classes are offered through a variety of colleges. They can help lower education costs because students usually pay a lower fee for these classes and do not have to purchase books or other class supplies.
What to do if you have a student loan.
If you already have a student loan, follow some of the tips listed above so that you can minimize the loan amount you may need in the future. Determine how much money you owe and if you can, start setting aside money now to pay the loan back while you are still in college. This will allow you to get a jump start on your repayment when you graduate. Consider working through college to earn enough to pay the loan back so that you can graduate without that debt looming over your head.
If you have graduated and are finding it difficult to pay back your existing student loans, consider a debt settlement. There are many different organizations that can help you settle your student loans, but there are also many companies that are less than reputable. The best way to settle student loan debt is to work with an experienced debt settlement lawyer who can determine the best course of action you need to take to fully resolve your student loan debt.