Most Americans have a hard time paying off their student loans. With many college students needing and wanting a degree combined with the high cost of a college education, families are trying their best to find a way to help their kids get through college. The good news is there are ways to save an average of $40,000 in tuition fees, as well as the loans that come with them.
What follows are some tips that can help students find and earn money, as well as reduce costs for their college degree—without having a huge student loan debt at graduation.
Free College Education
A college education doesn’t come cheap, but there are ways you can get one free. The best thing about getting a free education is that you don’t need to worry about paying back student loans. However, getting free tuition has specific requirements. Here are some options available for students in the United States.
- Grants – Students can apply for grants through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. They are given out based on the financial status of the student and don’t need to be paid back. Some grants are also available based on the student’s chosen career.
- Military-Based Funds – Dependents of veterans have various options for their college education. The first one is the GI Bill that gives dependents of military members up to 36 months of college benefits. Tuition assistance is also available to active military members up to $4,500 each year.
- Employer Reimbursement – More than half of all employers provide some type of tuition-fee reimbursement. Some companies have taken the initiative of paying back some of their workers’ student loans. There are instances in which companies are willing to completely pay for their employees’ master’s degree.
- Crowdfunding – A new way of getting money for college is through crowdfunding. Students can start an online campaign to raise funds through donations. Some of the commonly used platforms are IndieGoGo and GoFundMe.
- Cash Awards and Scholarships – There are billions of dollars just waiting for students to apply for them. There are scholarships for almost anything you can think of. Cash awards are often available for upperclassmen through organizations and associations.
Save for College Education
Another way to lower the impact of college tuition is to start saving as early as a child is one year old. Even though parents might be able to save only around $10,000, it is still a significant amount taken out of the costs of sending their son or daughter to college. Setting aside a small amount each month can add up to a huge amount over time.
Students who plan to complete their college education without debts should begin saving as soon as possible. Advance high school student planning can help individuals achieve their goal of avoiding student loans when they enter college.
Get a Job
Many students work while they are attending classes. Most of them work in the hospitality and retail industries. Delivery companies also provide an alternative source of employment for college students. Many students also apply for full-time jobs during breaks.
When looking for a part-time job, find one that doesn’t require late hours, and has a flexible work schedule, good wages, and a positive working environment. If possible, find a job that’s related to the field you want to enter after you earn your degree.
In-state and community colleges offer lower tuition fees than private universities do. In-state students pay $10,000 less compared to the same courses at an out-of-state school. Keep in mind, though, that tuition and other fees differ from one state to another.
Enroll in Early-College Programs
Some students lower their college tuition by enrolling in early-college programs. These initiatives allow students in grades 11 and 12 to take college courses. As a result, they reduce the money and time spent at four-year colleges, sometimes in half.
The early-college program is relatively cheaper than other pre-college programs across the United States. It provides opportunities for low-income students to continue their studies after they graduate from high school.
Another way to save on college tuition is to earn an associate degree within two years and then transfer to a four-year course. Two-year programs are less expensive and give students the opportunity to complete the prerequisites for a degree.
Determine What You Can Afford
If you have no savings for a college education, then you need to reprioritize what you currently have in the bank. Families should look at their budget to find out what they can reallocate toward tuition.
A solid budget plan along with a small student loan can help you with your tuition. Some colleges also offer tuition payment plans that can help take some of the sting away from a large expense.
One thing that you should know is that federal student loans come with a standard 10-year repayment scheme. The first payment for the loan is due six months after the day of the graduation.
Most students don’t know is that the government has other repayment plans that can lead to lower payments after graduation or delay repaying the loan altogether. The most popular option is the income-driven scheme because the amount due adjusts based on the borrower’s salary.
There’s also the possibility of being forgiven before you paid a loan off completely. To qualify for this option, you should work in a non-profit, government, or any other public service position. You also need to pay your dues on time for ten years. The best thing about this is that you don’t need to pay taxes on the loan balance.
Some students opt for an income-based repayment scheme that allows them to be eligible to have their loans forgiven within 20 to 25 years. It depends on when you borrowed, but you need to pay taxes on the remaining amount.
Reduce Overhead Costs
Students can also reduce their education costs by lowering their daily expenses. You can opt for a cheaper dorm instead of a more expensive apartment. If the campus is near your home, you should consider living there for several years.
Another way to reduce your daily expenses is to cook your own food instead of eating out. You can prepare your meals in advance so that you don’t need to eat out when you are busy with school.
Maximize Federal Student Loans
Before you turn to private bad credit lenders, you should first maximize the federal loans that are available. Private ones have higher interest rates and may include compound interest while you are still in school. Private loans also don’t have provisions for deferment, forbearance, and forgiveness.
The fear of getting a student loan should not stop you from pursuing higher education, however. As you can see, there are ways to help you reduce or even avoid having to take out a student loan. You just need to start with your plan early to ensure a bright future—with little to no debt.
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