by Laura Pearson
While you’re in college, you’ll probably be racking up knowledge as well as debt. But getting your degree doesn’t have to spell long-term, insurmountable financial troubles. Courtesy of Inspiring Test Preparation, here are some ways you can start reducing the economic burden of your education even before you step off the graduation stage.
Work While You Learn
With work-study arrangements, you may be able to go right from class to your job without ever leaving campus. When filing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), indicate that you’d like to participate in your school’s work-study program. The U.S. Department of Education will assess your financial situation and award you work-study hours, which can be fulfilled at on-campus jobs related to your major. You may also be able to work at private companies that partner with your school’s program.
As long as your schedule allows, you aren’t limited to your work-study job; you can also pick up another gig or internship for some extra cash. If you can swing it, a good idea may be to have your school’s financial aid office direct all of your work-study income directly to your student loans, and then use the money from your other job for living expenses while you’re in school.
Handle Your Loans With Care
Depending on what type of student loans you have, your options for repayment will vary. If you have privately held loans, your interest rate will most likely be higher, but so will your borrowing limit. Private loans also often reward you if you have excellent credit. These types of loans may be a good option if you need a substantial amount of money for your future education, such as medical or law school. However, private loans are typically more expensive than public loans, and you won’t have the protections federally backed student loans offer.
Conversely, public loans are administered through the federal government. There are caps on how much you can borrow, however. The interest rates are set by Congress and are usually much lower than private loans. Additionally, public loans have flexible repayment terms that can range from 10 to 25 years. You also have the option to consolidate multiple loans into one loan for a single monthly payment.
As a general rule, take advantage of public loans first, and then use private loans if necessary to cover any financial gaps.
One Degree, Many Options
Gone are the days of needing to live in a dorm and attend classes in a brick-and-mortar building. Now, you can earn a degree from an accredited institution online at your own pace. Attending college online can be very helpful in minimizing potential student debt. The flexible schedule allows you to continue working and the fix, upfront pricing prevents unknown expenses from being an issue.
You may also qualify for scholarships based on your academic or financial standing. Additionally, use resources such as SlugBooks to compare textbook prices to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Not all online degree programs are equal, so do your research to ensure you receive a high-quality, accredited education.
Think Ahead to Get Ahead
While it’s certainly expensive, a college degree almost always yields a positive return on investment. Set yourself up for financial success early so you can get the most out of school.