Currently, there is $1.48 trillion in total student loan debt according to Student Loan Hero. Many are finding it difficult to pay off their student loans after college, which is causing these individuals to put off major life events such as buying a home. However, just because this has been a common theme, doesn’t mean that you have to jump in head first because there is no other way. Here are three ways you can make sure that you borrow smartly rather than becoming another statistic.
Consider How Much Debt Versus Prospective Income
I remember when I was graduating high school and it came crunch time to figure out what I wanted to major in at the college level. One of the key things that I should have considered was how much I should expect to make after graduating college with my selected major. This is an important factor because you do not want to take on a boatload of debt if you will not have the financial means later to pay it off.
If you find that jobs in your desired field are highly competitive or do not earn as much as others, and yet you are still determined to get your degree in this field, then you may want to consider going to a community college to lower the costs of college your first few years. Just make sure that you have a clear plan to transfer to a four year, that way you don’t end up getting stuck in the community college cycle.
By doing this calculation, it may force you to explore other interests. Perhaps you consider trade school, military, or law enforcement. Or you may decide to change your major. Whatever you decide, just by taking this simple step will help you put into perspective how much debt you will be shouldering and if you think you can afford to handle it.
Look into Scholarships and Grants
After going through the above-mentioned step, and you decide you still want to go for your desired major, then you should begin researching for available scholarships and grants. There are many websites like Scholarships.com and Scholly, according to “5 Steps to Smarter Student Loan Borrowing.” Before taking out student loans, you should try to get as many scholarships and grants to help take on some of the costs.
Cap Out on Federal Loans
What many don’t realize that federal loans come with significant benefits in comparison to private loans. One key benefit that may come in handy later down the line is the many repayment plans that will be available to you with a federal loan. If you find it difficult to make your monthly payments on your student loans, you have the option of switching your plan to an Income-Based repayment plan. And if you can’t afford to do that, then if you are eligible, you may apply for a deferment or forbearance to delay paying your debt until you become more financially stable.
By doing just these three simple things, you can set yourself up in a greater position to handle the debt that you will face after graduating. Moreover, it may push you towards other avenues that you may of otherwise not have considered. No matter what you decide, you owe it to your future self to seriously consider and plan how you will make your career entrance.