It’s no secret that earning a college degree can saddle students with overwhelming long-term debt. That’s why so many high school students and adults considering going back to school, are having difficulty determining whether it’s worth it.
However, no matter what industry in which you hope to forge a career, a degree can do wonders for helping you start strong and advance quickly. And this is especially true when you’re working in a scientific field.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to minimize your student loan debt and position yourself for a fruitful future.
Save on College Expenses
First of all, make sure you select an affordable college. There is no shortage of options these days, and many accredited universities and colleges offer competitive tuition rates.
Typically, attending a public university will be less expensive than a private one, especially when you choose one in your home state. But you can save even more money by studying your first two years at a community college.
Also, look for an online program in your desired field. Not only are online schools often cheaper than conventional campus programs, but they allow you to complete your studies at your own pace.
That way, you can maintain a job and tend to other responsibilities as you earn a degree. For instance, you can get an online degree in computer science to grow your knowledge and in web development, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and many other fields.
Make a Budget
If you do not currently have a monthly budget, now is the time to create one. The key is to make a realistic budget that you can stick to for the long haul.
Consider all of your monthly income and expenses, and leave room for your future college expenses. Even better, try saving up some cash before going to college so that you will have a cushion when studying gets intense.
Work While You Study
It may not be the easiest path forward, but working a job to earn your degree can help you significantly reduce your long-term debt.
Remember that anything you make is an amount you will not need to borrow and worry about later in life.
If you don’t already have a job, visit your school’s career center and scour the campus job listings for ideas. If you find a job in your desired field, you can begin building your resume as you make an extra income.
Alternatively, you could start a part-time business that helps generate income to keep your debt low.
It might sound impossible, but there are plenty of spare-time businesses you can launch that won’t interfere with your study time. This includes being a reseller, a personal assistant, writing, tutoring or even cleaning house.
Look at Your Funding Options
There are a lot of funding opportunities for college students these days. Start by applying for grants and scholarships like it is your full-time job.
This is money you will not have to pay back, so it is worth all the time and energy you can put into it, and there is no limit to the grants and scholarships you can accept.
Use loans only when necessary, and only accept the amount you need throughout your studies.
When it comes to loans, opt for federal over private because the interest rates are typically lower. Your first step will be to fill out the FAFSA, introducing you to available government grants and other federal aid opportunities.
Hash Out a Plan With Your Advisor
Finally, find a faculty advisor as soon as you can. Every class you take matters, and if you take courses that do not help you reach your academic and career goals, you are only wasting money.
An advisor can help you strategize your course schedule and even account for other responsibilities like work and family obligations. If possible, make a plan for graduating early, which could save you thousands of dollars.
Long-term debt is a significant problem for college students across the country. But there are practical steps you can take to minimize what you will owe down the road, and taking the time to come up with a plan can save you a lot of money and stress as you are trying to build your career.
Consider the information and advice above, and keep researching how to make the most of your college experience while accruing the least amount of debt possible!