BY LORRAINE McKINNEY
For many people, the best way to get ahead in life is to go to college or university and get a degree that will enable them to work in the field of their choice. But, there is one problem with this: many students end up with so much student loan debt that they can’t even start working on getting ahead until they get that debt paid off, which can take several years. Luckily, there are many ways that you can reduce your student debt load, and in some cases, avoid a lot of it all together. Here are eight things you can do to reduce or avoid a lot of student loan debt.
- Only Borrow what You Need – A lot of students make the mistake of borrowing more than they actually need, so they have extra spending money. While this may seem like a great thing while you are in school, when you get out, you have to pay it back. Calculate your total costs, and only borrow that amount.
- Save Your Fives – A lot of people take the change they have at the end of each day and put it in a jar to save for later. You can take this a step further and save all of your five dollar bills. You will be saving a lot more in the long run, and then you will have money that you can use to pay down your student loan debt after you graduate.
- Leave the Country – You can work abroad, and often be exempt from paying taxes on pretty high incomes, up to around $100,000 per year. The money you can save on taxes can be used to help pay down your student loan debt, so you get it paid off quicker and you can start using your income for other things.
- Make Bi Weekly Payments – “Instead of making monthly student loan payments, make a payment every other week. You will be making 26 half payments, which means that you will actually be making an extra payment each year. While this may not seem like much, every little bit counts when it comes to getting rid of your student loan debt,” suggests an expert from Finance.co.uk.
- Look for Other Funding Sources – There is more than one way to skin a cat, and there is more than one way to pay for college. It is never too late to look for additional funding sources, including scholarships and bursaries, both of which you do not have to repay. Apply for every scholarship and bursary that you are eligible for, and you may be able to avoid a lot of student loan debt.
- Be Frugal – Now is the time to start learning how to live frugally. An off-campus apartment may seem like a good idea, but think about how much more it is going to cost in the long run. Look for ways to save money, and you won’t be wasting as much of your student loan money (and maybe even have some left over to use towards the payments later).
- Volunteer – Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community, and learn new skills. But, did you also know that it can help to pay off student loans? For instance, SponsorChange lets college grads donate their time and skills in exchange for student loan payments, which amounts to anywhere from $10 to $20 per hour.
- Look at All of the Options – There are many different loan options available to students, and some are a lot better than others when it comes to repayment schedules, interest, etc. You might actually do better in the long run with a private loan rather than taking out a lot of student loans. Now is the time to start researching all of your financing options.
Lorraine McKinney is an academic tutor and elearning specialist.