The College Crisis: How To Minimize Student Debt
Student Loans- We Hear About Them All the Time
Actually, taking out loans to attend college has become the norm. The average tuition for a state school sits at $23,000 per year, while the average tuition for a private university is double that at $45,000 per year.
With the cost of a proper education blasting through the roof, more and more students are forced to take out loans to cover what the university’s financial aid package doesn’t. Approximately 75% of students currently in college have taken out students loans, and experts project that students graduating in the class of 2014 will leave school nearly $30,000 in debt!
But that’s not the worst of it. Despite the mounting cost of education, less than 50% of college students will graduate with full-time employment! Because of the lack of financial stability, more than half of the population has to move back home after school.
Thankfully, there are some simple things you can do to minimize your debt.
1. Careful Planning
Tuition isn’t the only expense. When you’re considering your college budget, remember to include all of the factors. Rent (on or off campus), furniture, books, food, toiletries, and emergency funds add up. Formulate a realistic budget for yourself, and stick to it.
Not sure how to go about calculating your true expenses? USnews.com has a great tool to calculate the ‘net price’ of about 300 colleges:
Super Tip- Urban schools may have more additional costs than traditional campuses
2. Outside Scholarships
Although universities do offer financial aid packages, you shouldn’t bank on that as your only source of funding. Full scholarship financial aid packages are rarer than the Hope Diamond, and even partial scholarship financial aid packages are generally reserved for families who fall under the poverty line. To ensure that you’ll be able to make up for the bulk of what your package doesn’t cover, apply for as many external scholarships as possible.
Still confused about what’s inside your financial aid package? Check out College Board’s comprehensive Financial Aid Award Explanation page for more information.
3. Minimize Your Time
With AP exams and programs that allow high school students to take community college classes, it’s possible to enter your freshman year of college with a semester’s worth of credits! By credits earned in high school, you can save thousands of dollars by graduating a semester (or even a full year) early.
Another way to ensure an early graduation is to take the most credits allowable by the university. Most universities require 12 credits per semester to be a full time student, but will allow you to take up to 18 without an additional charge. But listen to this: Did you know that you are charged for those additional 6 credits whether or not you use them? Take full advantage of your tuition money!
*Super Tip- Not all colleges accept all AP scores. Before taking the exams, check out the colleges on your list and make sure that they will accept the credits. For example, many schools will only accept one AP English test even if you scored a 5 on both exams!