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Challenge: Back to School

Keeping Student Loan Debt Manageable

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Most students need financial aid in order to be able to graduate from college. The problem is, many students end up with a huge debt on their shoulders as soon as they graduate. At this point, students are likely only going to find entry-level jobs, so they aren’t going to have huge salaries upon graduation. So, not only are they going to have the expenses that come with being adults, they are also going to have to pay back a lot of student loans. This doesn’t have to happen to you, as long as you are smart about your student loans and know how to keep the debt manageable.

Don’t Borrow More than You Can Afford to Repay

One of the first things you need to consider when taking out student loans is how much you are going to be able to afford to repay later. Obviously, you can’t get an exact figure, but you can guesstimate it. If you are studying to work in a particular field, you can use the average starting salary in that field to create a future budget. Make sure that your student loan payments are going to be less than what you make each month.

If you borrow more than what you earn, you will have to look into alternate payment methods, such as an extended payment plan or an income-based payment plan. This can cut the monthly payments, but remember, it will also add to the amount of time you have to pay on the loan, and you will end up paying more interest in the long run.

“Without thinking about what they will be able to afford, many students end up borrowing twice what their expected salary will be. These are the students who stand a good chance of defaulting on student loan debt, because they just can’t afford it. This is something that you need to avoid. You want to graduate knowing that you aren’t going to have a huge financial burden on your shoulders before you even start your new career,” says financial expert from Get Out Of Debt Free.

Alternate Funding Sources

There are other funding sources that you don’t have to repay, and you definitely need to look into as many of these sources as possible. Start searching online for any scholarships and bursaries that you are eligible to apply for. The more money you get that you don’t have to pay back, the less you are going to need in student loans. Check out Fastweb, a scholarship-matching site that can help you find the scholarships that you might be able to receive.

Start Saving before College

If you are working for the summer, don’t waste the money you earn. In fact, any money that you get prior to heading off to college should be put into a savings account. You don’t have to put away every penny you receive, but you can stash a pretty good chunk to save for college. If you receive gift money from family members, stash it away. Again, the more money you have that doesn’t have to be repaid, the less debt you are going to end up with after you graduate from college.

Look at Cheaper Colleges

Just because a college is expensive, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best. You may find that a less expensive college is going to offer the same programs, and in some cases, better programs. Smaller, less expensive campuses also have a better student/teacher ratio, and often offer extra-curricular activities you won’t find on the larger campuses. You can save a lot of money on your tuition, which means that you won’t have to borrow as much money that will have to be repaid later.

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