So, how do you minimize your reliance on college loans? There are quite a few ways to accomplish this. Here are our favorites.
- Choose A Cheaper State School
Private schools are not the end all, be all You can get just as good of an education at a state school and the alumni support will be just as good, in most cases. State schools can save you thousands of dollars, each semester. This is because private schools are essentially subsidized, depending greatly on money from the state and less so on tuition.
Another benefit of a state school is the diverse demographics and the greater selection of degree programs. State schools tend to be larger than private schools and may offer more class choices and degree plans.
- Take Advantage Of Grants
There is nothing better than free money and that is what you get with grants. Grants are mainly need based and may be given out by the federal or state government. Some grants are also issued by institutions and these are usually specialty grans such as those for women, international students or disabled. Fill out your FAFSA and be sure to look into all of your grant options. A good search on the internet should help but be thorough.
- Start In Community College
There is no shame in going to community college and the tuition savings are huge, even over state schools. Your community college could be as little as 25% of the cost of the big state school. This means that you could probably pay for it out of pocket, eliminating two full years of tuition loans.
After completing two years at community, you can then transfer to a major university to complete your degree. Your four year degree will be issued from the university so, in the end, there is no difference. You will have the exact same degree as someone who spent four years at the major university but you might have half the student loan debt.
- Live At Home
Choose a school that is close to home and you can save a fortune on living expenses. It might not be as fun as having a place of your own but it is the frugal move. You will be glad that you did it when you graduate with less debt. In the end, your friends will be moving home to cope with their loan debt while you will be moving out on your own.
- Go To School Online
This is becoming an increasingly popular option as even major universities are offering degree plans online. It used to be a bit of a stigma getting your degree online but they are all doing it now due to the huge cost savings. It will allow you to save money on tuition and be more flexible with where you live and when you go to school. It will also make it easier to work a bit during school to further eliminate loan debt.
- Earn Credits In High School
It is actually quite easy to get a little ahed on courses in high-school. Students get their choice of classes to take as long as they meet the basic requirements. A motivated student can easily satisfy the requirements needed for graduation and then start working on college credits. A student could potentially leave high school with enough credits to start college as a Sophomore. That is a whole year where they would not need to take out loans.
- Increase Your Course Load
Most students take 5 classes a semester but could easily take on more. If you took just one extra class per semester, you could graduate in 3.5 years instead of 4. That is 4 whole months where you would not need to pay room and board, not to mention the savings on school fees and other costs during that time.
- Go To School During The Summer
On the same note as increasing your workload, you could go to school through the summer. You could do this either at your university or even at a community college. The hours will still transfer in to your school if you do not earn them there. The only requirement is that you usually must complete a majority of credits at your school.
- Test Out Of Classes
A lot of schools will allow you to test out of courses. All that you need to do is prove that you know the course material and take a test on it. This is usually for entry level, Freshman, stuff but every course you do not have to take is a potential savings.
- Become A Resident Assistant
Resident Assistants have the job of monitoring and helping undergraduate students. As an upper level student, you may be able to become one. Why would you want to do this? It might look good on a resume and in most cases, you will get free or heavily discounted rent.
- Pay Interest As It Accrues
It might seem like a small thing, but it can make a big difference. If you have an unsubsidized loan, your loan is accruing interest from day one. It adds up and if you do not pay it as it is charged, you will be paying interest on your interest. Control your total debt by paying off the interest as it is charged.
- Be The Poor College Kid
Act the part. Be cheap whenever possible and take advantage of anything that is free. Eat at moms or friends house instead of going out. Go to discount movie days and even clip coupons. This is the only chance that you will ever have to act like a bum and be respected for it, so take advantage and be cheap.
- Rent Textbooks
Renting is cheaper than buying new and often cheaper than buying used. Sure, when you buy used there is always the option to sell it back at the end of the semester but more often than you might think, this does not work out. Schools only buy back a limited amount of books and they might not even buy back any if the book changes. And, the books change often. Rent your books and save.
- Get A Job
Sure, you want the whole college experience and a job could potentially interfere with that but the money in hand is often worth it. After college, let your friends brag about their easy days in college from their apartment while you house shop. Even working ten hours a week can help you reduce your loan debt substantially.
- Don’t Max Out Your Loans
Try not to take out every penny that you can. Take out just what you need and avoid the urge to get it all thinking that you will just pay it back when you are making the big bucks.
- Use Your College Discount
Your college identification card can get you all sorts of discounts. It can save you money at restaurants, movie theaters and all sorts of places. Ask any company that you deal with if there is a discount for students, yo might be surprised.
- Take Advantage Of School Facilities
You are paying for them so use them. This could be a free gym or one of a number of other amenities like a computer center, sports facilities and entertainment choices. Free movie nights are an often found amenity.