Many Americans rely on student loans to be able to afford college, but taking on too much student loan debt can have far lasting effects. Student loan debt has more restrictions than even consumer credit debts. It’s very difficult to discharge in bankruptcy, and if you miss too many payments, you could face salary and tax refund garnishment.
And a recent survey by Bankrate found that 55% of student loan borrowers between the ages of 18 and 29 have put off a major life event like buying a car, getting married, having children, or buying a house because of student loan repayment. Considering the consequences of too many student loans, what can you do to reduce your student loan burden?
Use these four strategies to avoid taking on more student loans.
Reduce Your Main Living Expenses
Housing is one of the largest expenses for most students. What can you do to make your place more affordable? Run the numbers for living off-campus rather than living in a dorm. Often, you’ll be able to find a bigger place for less money by living off-campus.
If you already live off-campus, can you find roommates? Even better, can you live from home? Reducing this large expense will make your entire college experience much more affordable.
Find Work on the Side
Finding extra work during college is a great way to bring in more cash. But even better, it will also provide valuable experience to put on future resumes. A part-time job, especially one related to your major, will be a great launching pad for your career.
If you don’t like your part-time job options, consider using the skills you’re learning to freelance during school. You’ll be able to work according to your schedule while making extra money for living expenses. Finding freelance work involves figuring out what you can contribute to another organization. It’s an extremely valuable skill that you’ll use over and over in your future endeavors.
Look into College Scholarships and Grants
As a student, you’ve probably heard of the Federal Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). But beyond FAFSA, many organizations offer scholarships and grants that don’t have to be repaid. Ask your career center or financial aid office for names of grants, scholarships, and awards you can apply for.
Check with your department to see if they have any department specific scholarships. You’ll also find a lot of scholarships with some online research.
Depending on the scholarship or grant, it might take very little effort to apply. Once you’ve done a few applications, it doesn’t take much extra work to apply for many. And often there are a low number of applicants for small scholarships, so even if the amount of money seems low for the effort, it’s worth it to try.
For many students, college is their first time to manage a significant amount of money. Use this as an opportunity to learn how to live on less. It will help you get the most from your money now and in the future.
Set aside the money each month you need to spend on your necessary bills, and then live on the rest. Figure out how to hang out with friends on less, so you can afford the things you want to do most. Don’t open a credit card if you don’t know how you’ll pay it off at the end of the month.
Avoid Taking on More Student Loans
Your student loans can help pay for your education. But think carefully about what you actually need for your education, and resist spending the extra student loan money if possible.
By bringing in additional money and watching costs, you’ll be able to afford an awesome college experience now without sacrificing your future goals.