College Advice Blog

Aug 14, 2012

5 Ways to Keep Student Loan Debts Down

$7.9 billion is a lot of student debt. Here are five ways to keep from adding to the statistic.

1. Try Low-Cost Options  
There is no way around the expense of college: it’s an investment. You can do things to keep costs down, like taking classes at a lower cost at a community college and transfering those credits to a university later.  Many universities will honor these credits as if they were their own--just check transfer requirements first.

2. Do Your Research 

Heart set on that private university? In many cases, you can get a public university education that is just as good or even better than a private one. Be thorough in your research of universities and their programs. Learn all you can about a program, faculty, and especially employment statistics of recent graduates. If you educate yourself, you may find that the public, and cheaper, option is actually a better choice.

3. Borrow with the End in Mind  
Four years goes by fast. When you borrow, consider where you’ll likely be when you graduate, because you’ll be there sooner than you think.  A good rule of thumb is not to graduate with more in debt than you would make in your first year following college, that way you’ll be able to manage payments with ease.

In addition, be sure to consider what types of expenses you expect to have when you graduate. If you don’t want to move back home, you’ll want to put your income toward rent, not a loan payment.

4. Avoid Default with Employment Alternatives 
There is a chance you won’t get a job right after graduation. If you can’t find a job, don’t ignore your loans. You can take a part-time job to help you get by while you continue to look. Examine volunteer or internship options. Sometimes participating in these programs will qualify you for loan forgiveness. Do your research to find out.

5. Be Frugal 
This one sounds obvious, but many students don’t want to give up the comforts of high living. Don’t use student loan money to pay for furniture, clothes, or entertainment items. Many students take out loans to help cover living expenses, but be honest in your assessment of what you need to live. It’s okay to live like a broke college student; if you are taking out loans,that is what you are.

About the Author
Karen Falgore is the Online Ambassador for Liberty University’s online education and degree programs. She is passionate about education, weekends at Busch Gardens theme park, and finding the perfect spa treatment.

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