Four Financially Viable Alternatives to Taking Out Student Loans
According to a study by the Institute for College Access & Success’ Project on Student Debt, the average college graduate from the class of 2012 has about $29,400 in student loan debt. While some level of college debt might be unavoidable, read on to learn more about four ways you can fund your education while minimizing the amount of student loans you take.
1. Choose an In-State School
In most cases, tuition for a comparable degree at a public university in your state will be substantially less expensive than at a private, out-of-state college or university. If you can’t find a state school that fits your criteria, consider postponing your admission for a year or two while you take the necessary steps to establish residency in the same state as your school of choice.
2. Apply for Financial Aid
Even if you think your family makes too much money for you to qualify for financial aid, you should still fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Colleges use this information to make decisions not only about need-based aid, but also merit-based awards, grants, work study, and other forms of help with tuition. Even if you only receive a small amount of aid, every dollar counts. A bankruptcy specialist who often works with those deep in debt from student loans, recommends financial aid as one of the best ways to graduate debt-free.
3. Research Scholarship Opportunities
Figure out what’s unique about you as a candidate and use that information to apply for every scholarship you can find and qualify for. Since many scholarship applications are similar, putting your name in the ring for every possible award is a good way to offset tuition costs and avoid taking out additional loans. Even if you can’t cover classes, you may earn enough to pay for books for your first year (a substantial savings).
4. Find a Job with Tuition Reimbursement
A key benefit that many employers offer is tuition reimbursement. This means that they will fund your college or university tuition up to a certain dollar amount, provided you maintain certain grades. In some cases, you must also take a relevant course of study and commit to remaining at the job for a certain period after earning your degree. But if you read the fine print, this can be an ideal way to pay for the bulk of your college costs.
If you do need to take out loans, consider federal loans before seeking private loans, which often have a much higher interest rate and less favorable terms.