How to Avoid Debt as a College Student

This is a guest post.

These days, it can take a considerable sum of money to attend college. However, the effort doesn’t have to break your bank account or put you into a considerable amount of debt. Here are some tips for helping you keep your finances under control.

Save Your Pennies

The sooner you start saving for college, the better. Parents can help support their children though options such as 529 plans, for which some states even offer income tax breaks. Remember, anything you’re able to save now, you’ll have to put toward your college education later.

Academic Preparation Starts in High School

If you’re able, take AP classes in high school. The more college-level material you complete before your freshman year of college, the better off you’ll be financially. That’s one less class you will have to take—and pay for—when you get there.

Budget

Be sure you fully consider the college costs you must pay. Think beyond tuition, books, and other education-related fees. You’ll also have to factor in transportation costs; food, clothing and other personal expenses; and room and board costs. Calculate these costs carefully, in order to know whether the school you are considering will be in your budget or if it will be more than you can afford.

Evaluate Your Options

Find a school that wants you, Gordon Wadsworth, author of Cost-Effective College: Creative Ways to Pay for College and Stay Out of Debt, advised in an article by Bankrate.com. If you find a school that considers you a strong asset to their academic community, you may be more likely to secure scholarship aid, which does not have to be repaid, from that institution. Keep in mind that this might mean attending a junior college or other school first.

Don’t despair if you have dreams of attending a big-name institution. By doing well first in a smaller setting, you could earn good enough grades to secure more aid from the bigger, and likely pricier, school.

You might even consider starting with some online courses. Generally, online courses cost less money for tuition and will save you additional money on transportation, housing, and living expenses. The good news about this style of learning is that you will receive the same level of education that you would by attending classes at the university. You will have access to the same faculty members as on-campus students, while having the chance to interact with fellow students via chat and message boards. For this reason, an increasing number of high-level students are going in this direction and are avoiding post-university debt because of their decisions.

Loan Advice

If you aren’t able to complete school without the assistance of student loans, then be wise about the choices you make to borrow money. Federal loans are a good first option to pursue because repayment is kept manageable, and interest rates are often better. If you end up using another lender, shop around until you find the best interest rate you can.

Employment Pledge

When you graduate from school, you’ll need to take a special interest in repaying your student loans. New students at Westwood College can breathe a little easier knowing they are eligible to take part in the school’s Employment Pledge program. The program guarantees that graduates who don’t find employment within six months of graduation, the school will offer them a set amount of monthly financial assistance to help them avoid serious financial difficulty.

References

Photo by StudyGroupAlex

About Brad Chaffee

2 Responses to “How to Avoid Debt as a College Student”

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  1. Nate says:

    Another thing that is important when considering debt is tuition inflation. What tuition (and other fees) cost today will be different 5, 10 or 15 years from now. You mentioned saving for a 529 account, but it will be important to try and budget to compensate for adjusted costs in the future.

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