The amount of student loan debt is increasing every year, and the average amount of debt carried by each student that has loans is a staggering almost $30,000; that’s a lot of debt to start your post-college life off with.
College expenses continue to soar, so it often feels like there is no way around taking out expensive student loans; however, there are ways to reduce and sometimes eliminate the need for college loans. Below, we’ll take a look at 6 ways to avoid and reduce student loan debt.
Apply for FAFSA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion is an important stepping stone for many students trying to afford steep university costs. The amount of aid, if any, that you can receive through FAFSA is entirely based on how much your family income is; you should be sure to apply for FAFSA whether you think you qualify or not and let them make the decision.
It’s also important to apply for FAFSA as soon as possible. You can submit your application up to a year prior to when you plan on beginning school and this can be beneficial because if you qualify for any financial assistance you’ll be able to see what schools can offer which amounts of assistance; this can make your school choice easier if affordability is a big issue.
Work Before and Through School
It’s understandable that you don’t want to work while also studying and working hard through college, however, if you want to avoid or reduce your student loans it may be unavoidable. If you choose to get a part-time job during school, trust that you won’t be alone in doing this. Working hard on saving money now will pay off later after graduation. Be sure to also take advantage of summer vacation time when school is out and you’ll have more time to dedicate towards working and setting aside money for the next semester.
Take AP Courses
If you’re in high school, take advantage of any AP (advanced placement) courses that they have available to you. Certain AP courses that you take in high school, along with the yearly AP exam, can actually go towards course credits in the college you select. More credits equal less time you need to spend at school, which in turn allows for less money being spent.
Skip the Private Universities
The idea of attending a private university can be alluring, but the truth is they tend to be much more expensive than community colleges or state schools. Consider going to a less expensive local school, even if it’s just to begin with; sometimes you can just transfer at a later time to a private school to complete your education. You’ll end up saving a lot of money either way.
Look Into Scholarships and Grants
There are a TON of scholarships and grants out there, so don’t feel limited if you didn’t qualify already by your grades, extracurricular achievements, or financial situation. Google local scholarships or grants that are available for incoming students; narrowing your search by school and looking into the programs each school you’re considering has to offer can also prove to be a big benefit. You’re almost guaranteed to find something you qualify for; it may not be a hefty amount, but every little bit counts when you’re trying to reduce or avoid student loan debt.
Check Out Loan Forgiveness Programs
Once you’ve finished school, if you have debt you may qualify for a loan forgiveness program. These types of programs are typically federally funded and only available to certain career fields (generally teaching or public service related) and only after you’ve been in your line of work for a certain period of time.
If you don’t qualify for a loan forgiveness program, you can also speak with your creditor(s) and see if there is any restructuring or reduction that can be done on your loan.