Graduating with too much college debt tends to delay key life events such as getting married, buying a house, having children and saving for retirement. It drives one to any paying job instead of one that nurtures career growth. One may even be forced to move back in with their parents to survive.
Horror stories of college graduates struggling under the financial burden of student loans just as they are getting started in their careers are enough to make any wide-eyed college hopeful think twice about higher education. Unfortunately, most occupations today require a college education. This makes the burden of student loans seemingly inevitable.
Following our commitment to ensure that low income students can complete higher education without accumulating crippling, long-term college debt, we at Pasos For Oak Cliff have come up with options for those considering joining college. Read on to learn how you can avoid the college debt trap.
● Start Looking for scholarships and grants early
Exhaust all sources of free money before you turn to student loans. Start looking for grants and scholarships as early as possible from all available sources. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to get government grants, federal aid and low-interest federal loans with manageable payment plans. You can also check out Pasos scholarships here.
● Pick a cheap college
There are many considerations to make when choosing a college. These include location, class size and campus atmosphere. Availability of the course study of your interest and cost should be key priorities. Find the most affordable option.
Consider joining a tuition-free college or a public in-state school. You can also attend community college for the first two years before transferring. You should also consider other financial factors like cost of living, employment opportunities and cost of travel home for holidays.
● Work and save money for college
Saving is cheaper than borrowing. Start setting money aside for college as soon as possible. You can even invest your savings wisely so that they compound. Earn money from part time jobs after school and on weekends. You can also work full time during your summer breaks.
● Opt for a tuition payment plan
A tuition payment plan splits your college fees into 9-12 monthly installments which you can pay as you go. This eliminates the need for a long-term loan debt. Take time to read the terms and conditions of this type of agreement to find out what happens if you can no longer continue to make the payments, if you withdraw or if the school closes.
● Enroll in an online program
Online programs are typically less expensive than traditional in-person programs. You can take your classes from home to reduce expenses further. Since you are allowed to learn at your own pace, you can be working and taking care of other responsibilities in your life while earning a college degree.
Online college is especially ideal if you are going back to school to improve your career prospects. For example, it will not cost you much to earn an online master’s in IT. You could learn about data analytics, information technology management or cyber security while still working in the sector.
● Work while in school
Working part-time after class and full-time during the summer can help you avoid borrowing. Search for nearby part-time jobs on campus job board, college website and career services. Working while in school will also build your resume and teach you valuable lessons in time and money management.
Many households in the United States today are grappling with student loan debt. Graduates are now forced to spend a good portion of their working careers managing debt. Fortunately, you do not have to suffer a similar fate. If you are considering enrolling in a college program, you can avoid getting caught in the trap of overwhelming student debt.
Explore available Pasos for Oak Cliff for programs that can help you avoid graduating with long-term debt and more!
This article was written by Carla Lopez off boomerbiz.org.