Stories of college graduates struggling to deal with their student loans are enough to scare away any bright-eyed college hopeful.
If you’re thinking about college or in school right now, there are plenty of steps you can take to help reduce the amount of student loan debt you’ll be saddled with after graduation.
Here are 15 ways to reduce your student loans while you’re still in school:
1. Take Time to Save Before Going to College
There isn’t any rule that says you have to jump straight from high school to college. While some people believe that a year off reduces the chance you’ll actually go to college, as long as you have the determination, a year off doesn’t have to affect you.
In fact, consider applying to your school of choice, but deferring your enrollment, so you know it’s there waiting for you. If you work your butt off and save from the summer after senior year through the next summer, you’d have a nice chunk saved for college to reduce the amount of loans you’ll need to take on. Plus, it could also give you time to think about what you want to major in so you’re not bouncing around wasting time and even more money.
To stay on track, you can still meet with an advisor and start thinking about what classes you’ll take.
2. Choose an Affordable College
When you’re choosing the college that’s right for you, there are many things to consider. You’ll want to be certain the school offers the course of study you’re interested in and has a good program. You’ll also want to consider location, what class size you’re looking for, and what the atmosphere is like on campus. But many college-bound students don’t consider choosing a more affordable college experience.
Generally speaking, a public university is going to be cheaper than a private university, and in-state tuition is going to be cheaper than going to an out-of-state school. Taking classes at a community college for two years before transferring to a bigger school is also a common budget-friendly option. Compare tuition and fees at the colleges you’re interested in, or check out Time’s 25 Best Colleges For Your Money.
There are other financial factors to think about when determining which colleges are more affordable than others as well. Consider cost of living in the area. You’ll end up spending more on off-campus rent, food, transportation, and entertainment at University of Illinois at Chicago (near downtown Chicago) than you would at Illinois State University (in Bloomington, Ill.)
There are other big financial issues to consider, too. Will you need to purchase or own a car to get around? Gas, insurance, and maintenance can add up fast. Are there opportunities for employment, either through the school or in the community? How much it will cost you to travel home for holidays and breaks? The University of Hawaii is less appealing after you search for plane tickets home around Thanksgiving.
One option definitely worth considering is attending college online. Not only is tuition significantly cheaper than being on campus, but you can also afford yourself time to intern and work part-time while studying. Take a look at some online learning opportunities easily by using this search tool:
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