Student Loan Borrowing on the Rise

Borrowing is up, but it’s not on credit cards. What are we using the money for? Automobiles and education. Our nation’s student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt and is expected to top $1 trillion this year. [1]

While I am the first to say education is a good investment, it pays to be wise when borrowing to go to school. Financial experts still use the rule, “only borrow what you expect to earn in your first year after graduating.” That means if you are going to school to become an elementary school teach, your maximum student loan debt should be about $49,000.

According to Student financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz [2], Bachelor level students, graduating college this year, will owe an average of $27,000 in student loans.

So how can you make it out of college for less?

Scholarships. You can apply for scholarships throughout your entire academic career. They are not restricted to students graduating high school. There are sites online like FastWeb.com, Collegeboard.org, and FinAid.org that can help you research and find scholarships. Try to avoid any services that charge you a fee to find scholarships.

Look for the best deal on a school. Just like everything else we buy, it pays to research and comparison shop. There are many schools with great academic programs and tuition that costs half that of first tier colleges. My suggestion to find them: Google “cheap good colleges.”

 

Save money for college – If you have already started college, it is not too late to start saving for school. Try saving a little bit of the financial aid or student loan monies you receive from one term for the upcoming terms. Another option, if you already have loans, is to make the interest payments while you are still in school. That can drastically cut down on the amount you owe when you leave.

If you are not in school already, go over your budget and look for money that you can save. Put that money into savings for your education.

Carefully consider your career choice. If you work in certain fields, you may be eligible to have your student loan forgiven (wiped out).  If you are a nurse, teacher, attorney, medical professional, or work for the government or a non-profit organization you may qualify for a forgiveness program.

Peace Corps volunteers can get forgiveness of Perkins loans.[3]

Volunteer for AmeriCorps or Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and you can get educational awards of $4,725 for each year of service. These awards can be applied to student loans or future education expenses.[3]