College is expensive and if you have heard any of the news lately about student loans, students are graduating with HUGE amount of student loan debt. When we say huge, we aretalking about $30,000 – $40,000. Yikes! As you bite your fingernails in fear of student loans, you may not want to think about the rest of the expenses that are associated with college such as food and rent. These can be just as troublesome as a student loan, but they are by no means invincible.
There are plenty of options and methods to affording college, but at a glance, you may think these options sound hard or certainly more difficult than sitting on a student loan for four years. Well, these options are actually more difficult to keep up with, especially as a young college student. With that being said, there are some pretty serious benefits for being able to pull off some of these tips such as being debt free as a graduate. Check out how to afford college the hard way.
Get a Part-Time Job
While you may not like the idea of a part-time job, it can help you afford college and minimize the amount of debt you have to take on. Having a source of income throughout college gives you spending power which opens the door to success in affording college the hard way. This is step one to achieving that end.
If you are unsure of where to find a part-time job, then take a look at your local restaurants, fast food joints, and retail stores. In fact, if you are looking for a part-time job around the holidays, then you are in luck because many places hire additional bodies to help out with increased holiday foot traffic. Working in a college town may be troublesome since some businesses cut hours during off-semester times, but there are still plenty of options. The internet has all sorts of job search engines that can list out plenty of the opportunities by location.
Create and Stick to a Strict Budget
Budget. The word that most people fear, and a word that indicates a truly difficult thing to do. Budgets are an essential tool for properly managing your finances. If you do not have a budget, then there is a good chance that you spend too much money every week. Once your bills are paid and groceries are bought, you probably have no desire to check your bank account. If you are going to afford college, developing a personal budget is absolutely necessary.
It is easy toformulate a personal budget (there are plenty of helpful resources online), but the hard part is following a budget. Using a personal budget, calculate how much your classes and school related costs will be and set a goal for yourself. Budget your finances and make your goal happen. Yes, it will be difficult, but it will be worth it in the end.
Look for and Apply to Scholarships
Scholarships are free money, so you do not have to pay back any scholarship money at any time. If you still want to take out student loans after hearing that, then you clearly don’t understand the value of a scholarship. Scholarships are clearly the best alternative to a student loan, but they require effort and diligence to acquire. You basically need to work hard by searching for as many scholarship opportunities as possible.
While you may want to spend your weeknights and weekends at the club, it would make more sense to spend the time searching for and applying to different scholarships. It is possible to receive enough scholarship money to fund your entire semester (and all off college for that matter). If you are unsure of where to look for scholarships, start with the internet. There are plenty of websites that provide scholarship listings, so there is no lack of opportunity. Consider going to a site like Fastweb.com to get started.
Save as Much Money on Student Loans as Possible
To save money on your student loans, there are many different options. First, you should only borrow what you absolutely need to. By only borrowing the bare minimum, you are minimizing the burden of student loan debt later.
Second, throughout college you should proactively make student loan payments which is going to require a source of income (hence the part-time job). This involves making interest only payments every month, or it could mean making larger principle payments each month.
Third, if you decide to start paying your loans, then there are several options to help save money. One option is refinancing, a popular private service that essentially lumps your loans together under one new interest rate. Other plans include income-driven repayment plans which take percentage of your income each month for student loan payments. All of these plans help you save money over the life of a loan.
While the above options do sound a lot harder than simply taking out a student loan and waiting four years, they will help you avoid debt when you graduate from college. Working hard throughout college is essential; a part-time job opens up the door to different financial options. If you put your mind to it and stick to a strict budget, you can pay for college without going broke.
There are plenty of alternatives to student loans such as scholarships, and there are plenty of ways to save on student loans such as student loan refinancing or proactively tackling monthly payments. Once again, the root of success is working hard throughout those four years of seeking a degree.