We all know the story of the person struggling to pay off student debt from decades ago. This can leave many jaded about the financial benefits of an education. If you are a high school student or their parent, you might be scared for the future. Here are some tips to help avoid taking too much debt.
6 Ways to Avoid Ever Taking Student Debt
- Work during school: Nobody reasonable claims that paying for school with that part-time job is really feasible anymore, but covering some monthly living expenses can shrink the size of the loans. This can help pay for rent and basic living conditions, so that the student doesn’t need to borrow as much over those four years.
- Get good grades in high school: If your child is still in high school, getting good grades here is one of the best ways to save on college. The better the student’s performance, the better chance of large merit scholarships that could save thousands along the way. Additionally, all students should take the SAT or ACT extremely seriously. Four hours in a test room could mean a major difference in scholarships and acceptances.
- Pick up credits without taking classes: Programs such as AP, CLEP, and concurrent enrollment will save parents and students from paying for expensive college tuition. If your child is going to a more expensive university, you might also recommend taking some community college classes to lighten the cost burden.
- Fill out your federal aid app early: The simple act of filing for financial aid early each year will maximize the chances of getting help from the government.
- Fight for scholarships: There are hundreds of scholarships in America for everything from good grades to oboe musicianship. Many students never apply because they don’t think they have the traditional academic chops. This is a mistake. Parents should encourage their children to research all the options to help them avoid taking those loans.
- Consider state school: The ambition of going to a competitive college is a noble one, but it also helps to think realistically about cost. If a private school isn’t necessarily a stronger program but it has a great campus, it might be more pragmatic to go to the local state university. Another possibility is completing the first two years at a community college and the transferring to a more prestigious institution.
Whether you are a parent of a student or you are looking to go to school yourself, one of the best ways to manage student debt is to avoid taking it in the first place. Hopefully, these tips will serve as a useful start.