Responsibly planning your way out of student debt
Knowledge comes with a price. As a student, passing your exams are not the only thing you need to worry about. The ever-increasing price of tuition fees for completing the academic curriculum has become something that parents and children constantly worry about. Most countries offer government subsidiaries and loans to help cover the costs, however, education debt is also an issue for many. Here are some measures and considerations you can take to responsibly plan your way out of your student debt:
Before You Accept A Student Loan…
Ask questions and follow instructions
Before you finalise your choice on which student loan to take, make sure that you have done enough research to make your decision. Don’t be afraid to contact a financial aid officer to get answers. Also, make sure you know the rules and requirements for applying for student loans. Funds can be limited, so be sure to apply by the deadline.
Be clear on what you’re signing
To make sure you understand a loan’s terms, conditions and repayment requirements, ask your financial aid officer questions like these:
- How much will this loan cost in total?
- What will my monthly payments be?
- Is the interest rate fixed or variable?
- Can I get a lower interest rate?
- What fees do I have to pay?
Note private-loan credit requirements
Private loans require credit checks. If you do not have a credit history, you will need a cosigner with a good credit history and credit score. Typically, the better the co signer’s credit history and score, the better the interest rate and other terms will be.
While you’re in school…
Kickstart your in-school budget
- Make two lists. Your first list should include all your sources of income, and the second list should include all your college costs. Sources of income may include employment, grants, scholarships, work-study income, college savings plans, contributions from relatives or friends, and more. College costs may include tuition, books, fees, supplies, equipment, housing, food, and more.
- Calculate your total income and your total expenses
- Compare your total income with your total expenses. If your total income and available savings are less than your total college costs, review your list of expenses, and check for ways to reduce your spending and to eliminate unnecessary expenses.
- Now, compare your total income against your expenses again. If your total income and resources are still less than what you need to pay for your college costs, consider taking out a federal student loan.
Track your borrowing
It’s important to keep track of each loan you receive so that you are aware of how much you’ll need to pay each month and in total for your loans as you progress through college. Don’t wait until you graduate or stop attending school to review your student debt. If you do wait, you may find you have borrowed more than you can afford to repay or have multiple types of loans that require separate monthly payments.
Consider working part-time
With a more flexible schedule as compared to your secondary education, most tertiary students are now working part-time. The possibilities are endless. From working as a freelance writer, waitress or even working ad-hoc for events.
You won’t need to borrow as much if you have a part-time job to cover some of your expenses. You may even check out if your university offers work-study programmes!
Consider making interest payments while in college
You can start making payments on any need-based loans while you’re in college. You don’t have to pay a lot, and this will allow you to reduce the total amount of student debt you’ll have to repay.