With graduation coming around the corner and with many hopeful grads getting ready to enter the workforce. One can only hope that after so many years of hard work and hundreds of thousands in debt, one would be able to find a job to start paying back.
A new chapter of more debts and more responsibilities. Welcome to the real adulthood.
Between undergrad and grad school, I graduated with around $130,000 in student loans. Although it is not a small amount, it is nothing compared to some of my coworkers’ student loans. Some of them have over $300K in student loans with most of them around $200K. It makes one wonder, is it even worth it? What if you graduate and cannot find a job?
My profession has changed so much from when I was just a college student to where I am now. A lot of people in my profession cannot even find full-time work. I was lucky because when I graduated, it wasn’t as hard to find a job and tuition wasn’t as expensive as it is today. $130,000 is no a chump change, but still a lot better than $300,000. It’s crazy to think how things have changed so much in 10 years.
A college degree is an investment for your future, but just like any investments, you have to make sure that the return is worth the investment. There is no better way to start a bright future than to have as little student loan debt as possible.
Ways to save money and to lessen the college debt:
1. Community college – get the general classes out of the way for a fraction of the cost. Start taking classes while you are still in high school to get college credit for free.
2. Check for free colleges – I didn’t even know this existed when I was in college. One of my coworkers got all her undergrad paid for in exchange for working a few hours a week on campus. I’d definitely recommend looking into that. Nothing beats getting a college degree for free.
3. Scholarship/grants/work study – when I was in undergrad, I was able to earn $4000 a year in work study. It’s an easy way to earn extra money working on campus. Someone I know received a scholarship and he didn’t even meet the minimum requirement (must be female to apply), but he got it because nobody applied. How crazy is that?
4. Living at home – I lived at home when I was in college. I was jealous of my classmates because they got their first taste of freedom. But after being on my own for 10+ years now, I’m glad I lived at home the first few years to save money.
5. Use tuition money for tuition/books only – This should be common sense, but a lot of my classmates used tuition money to go on vacations. Let’s say the interest rate is 6.8%, you’re actually borrowing money with interest to take a vacation. You wouldn’t take out a credit card debt to go on vacation (at least I hope not), so why is this any different?
6. Get a part-time/seasonal job – In addition to work study, I also made good money working weekends, summer, Christmas breaks.
7. Do not buy every single book – Books are so ridiculously expensive. My school would let me check out an older edition for a month. I was able to check out the current edition for only a couple of hours so I’d stay in the library and study. Win win situation.
8. Do research on your major – Don’t just major in history or liberal arts or whatever just because you want to finish and graduate. It’s an investment in your future. If you don’t know, it’s better to take a year off than to take out $30,000/year in student loans just because. Look at Steve Jobs, he dropped out because he couldn’t justify his parent’s hard-earned money on classes that he wasn’t interested in. If he just mindlessly studied whatever, I might not be typing this post of my Mac.