As overall educational loan debt in the United States prepares to pass the $1 trillion dollar mark, students everywhere need to take a hard look at the financial burden they are incurring in return for that degree. There’s no doubt it’s easy money on the front end – the government makes sure of that – but many graduates find themselves in the midst of the loan payment blues after snagging a diploma. As an example, consider that the tens of thousands of dollars in debt could easily reach the equivalent of the monthly payment for a nice car, but without the car to show for it.
Stop the madness! You don’t have to keep taking out loans. There are alternatives. Here are a few.
1. Scholarships and Grants – A certain percentage of this free money goes unclaimed each year. Sure the applications can become repetitive and a hassle, but take the time to do it. Your pocketbook will thank you later. A word to the wise; seek out scholarships. A good place to start for information is the financial aid office of your school.
2. Pay as You Go – Believe it or not, many students can and do work in order to pay the school bill as they go. A full-time job in the summer and part-time work throughout the rest of the year should just about do the trick, especially if you’re frugal with expenses and good at saving.
3. Employer Sponsored School – It’s not unheard of for an employer to pay for a certain amount (maybe all) of your tuition in return for dedicating an agreed upon number of years after graduation to working for them. This means you need to turn the equation around and secure a job before starting school.
4. Part-Time / Heavy Loads – A few other alternatives to the usual student track are to either go to school part-time or take heavier than average course loads. In the first case, the goal is to allow yourself more time to work in order to afford to pay for educational expenses. The latter involves getting through in the shortest amount of time possible, thus reducing housing and meal expenses.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t simply assume an enormous is the price for attending college. It doesn’t have to be that way. Give the topic some serious thought. Less debt means a greatly increased quality of life immediately following graduation.
The Young Wealth Team
Flickr / DonkeyHotey