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Who doesn’t love college debt?
It’s so much fun, working your gluteus maximus off in college just to be buried with debts!
If you haven’t caught on, that was sarcasm.
So, one day (roughly a week ago) I was sitting at a table, scrolling through my emails and received a well – email. My beautiful six months grace period was up, and the debt collectors are pounding at my door! I began complaining to my boyfriend, and he gave me that – what the…look.
We discussed it, and it turned out I’m way below the average student loans debt. The average student in the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt – think what it is like today!
So, I sat down and brainstormed (along with some research) of how to minimize your college debts!
Here are my tips:
1. Save Money
Learn how to play the game before entering by saving money in a college savings plan before enrolling in college. This means you need to get a job (side gigs) while you’re in high school. If you don’t want to get a job, you can always enter competitions. For example, I remembered entering a few novel knowledge competitions in high school where they give out prize money!
There are many scholarships websites or even free scholarship-matching sites you can enter during your free time to get free money. Well, it’s not entirely free since there are always requirements such as writing an essay to get it. It may sound like a lot of work, but think about it – what if everyone had the same thought as you and you’re the few who actually entered?! The chances of you winning just increased!
Free scholarship-matching sites: Fastweb
Personally, I had never entered a scholarship online. I always entered through my school scholarship and won a few. I suggest going there too!
3. Choosing a College
Yes, it is incredible to get into your dream college – but take a step back and think. Is it really worth taking out that $30,000 loan every year? I’m not even exaggerating it; I had friends who took out a $30,000 loan before!
In-state vs. Out-of-State:
If you’re going to get a higher degree afterward, I would suggest going to a cheaper college because that dream college will be there. It’s not where you began, but where you end. Keep in mind that in-state public college is known to be cheaper than out-of-state. However, if you are determined to go out-of-state college, try to establish residency first so you can qualify for in-state tuition!
I’m saying mooch off of your parents as long as possible! No shame in the life of game!
When I say mooch off of your parents, it doesn’t mean they are paying everything for you – from your pitiful gas to the food on your table. If you want to be independent, I suggest packing food every weekend from your parents to dodge the bullet of heavy grocery shopping.
According to Gallup news, the average Americans spent roughly $150 on food per week. However, keep in mind that you are a college student hence you shouldn’t consume $150 worth of food per month. If you do, we seriously need to have a one-on-one talk. American college students spend on food anywhere between $42-$55 per week. There is also an estimation that the average adult spends between $10-12 per day on food, which comes out to about $70-84 per week. So, let’s say college students pay $70 per week which becomes roughly nearly $300 per month! Packing food at your parents saves you approximately $300.
For me, I spend roughly $70 per week cooking for two, but that doesn’t count dining out on weeks. It also doesn’t take into account that I’m a coffee manic.
Don’t feel ashamed of hoping or staying in their phone plan, Netflix account, or car insurance! You want to do what’s best for your future, and your parents will surely understand. It does not make you any less of an adult. What makes you a fool is refusing a helping hand due to your pride.
If you qualify, go for it!
If you think you don’t qualify, still apply!
Apply! Apply! Apply!
You never know!
When you do get financial aid, borrow from federal first because the loans are cheaper, more available, and have better repayment terms.
If you aren’t certain about financial aid and how it works, I suggest reading The Beginner’s Guide to Financial Aid.
6. Pay Loans while you’re in School
Just as the title says – pay it while you’re in school if you can.
If you can, borrow money from your parents. I understand it is embarrassing, but they will understand if you explain it to them. It’s better than paying a few extra thousand dollars worth of loans.
7. Grab a Job
Grab a part-time job during school term and full time during summer. I suggest getting a job with a flexible schedule!
Be extremely cautious when choosing your major because four years can pass in a blink of an eye. I had met people who continuously switch their majors because they “didn’t like it.” Keep in mind, you are free to choose your passion, but you are on a ticking time clock because with each additional semester, your loans only increase.
9. Understand the different type of Loans
For example, direct subsidized loans are when the federal government pays for interest while the student is in college or whole the loan is in deferment while direct unsubsidized loans are when interest begins when the loan is taken out.
Learn more about loans here.
10. Pay Fast
After you graduate, start paying immediately! Do not pay the minimum because you’re only paying the interest. If possible, go for the maximum amount of payment.
There you go, ten not-so-quick steps on how to minimize your college loans! Happy learning!