Most American students graduate with a significant debt load, a circumstance that can hinder their ability to achieve other goals as they progress through their early working life. For example, students with a great deal of debt may not be able to cope financially, precluding them from taking an unpaid internship that could jump-start their dream career.
Fortunately, there are powerful techniques that can help students at Miami College and other institutions to stay out of the “college debt trap.”
Avoid huge debts by minimizing the units needed
Students hoping to stay out of debt whilst at college should start when they are in high school by taking as many Advanced Placement courses as possible. For a small fee, typically $70, students in AP courses can take a test in a variety of subjects. Those who pass these tests earn university in the applicable subject. Taking 3 or 4 AP tests can mean graduating a semester early. This saves a great deal of money that might otherwise have to be borrowed by the student.
Evaluate financing when choosing a college
Another way to save money on college costs is to choose an institution wisely. Some students reduce their need for debt by attending a two-year college first, since these are typically much more affordable. Well-qualified students may also find that some schools are willing to recruit them. This can mean sufficient financial aid so that loans are not needed, and in many cases is a better long-term choice than attending a more prestigious college that is unwilling to offer financial aid.
Earn money while attending college
Many students would prefer to concentrate solely on their studies while attending a university, but this is a luxury that few can afford these days. Taking a part-time job can help students to meet ongoing expenses so that loans are unnecessary. Look around for waitressing/waiter jobs that you can do in the evening and at weekends. Students can also opt for more creative moneymaking opportunities, such as taking photographs to sell online at stock photography sites and searching the Internet for “work at home” jobs that provide flexible hours completing such tasks as typing and data entry.
Those who can demonstrate financial need can often enroll in work-study programs that pay tuition out of job proceeds. These jobs have the added benefit of usually being located on campus, a particular boon to those living in university housing.
Control your spending habits
Using financial resources wisely means avoiding unnecessary spending. After all, every dollar that can be trimmed from the budget represents money that will not have to be earned or borrowed. Even small changes can lead to significant savings, so switch those incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient compact fluorescent ones.
Even bigger savings can be found in the average food budget. Instead of eating meat every day, opt for rice and beans several times a week. These foods offer high-quality low-fat protein at a much more reasonable cost.
Life after college
Graduating debt-free is something to be proud of, but it will also prove useful in later life. Employers these days routinely check the credit history of applicants, since those who manage their own finances well are thought to be more responsible in general. Graduates without large debt loads will also have more flexibility when it comes to meeting the expenses that can accompany a new job, such as relocating to another area of the country