The months before you start college or graduate school are usually frenetic, involving a long checklist to eliminate and a whole new lifestyle to look forward to–without too much thought to student loan considerations at first. While deciding what you want to major in and what classes to take, along with buying clothes and books and meal plans, you must also consider the very real issue of how to pay for school though. This is usually even more challenging for younger students who may not have much experiences with finances yet.
A large percentage of students entering a college or university will need help. And because many student loans can be surprisingly easy to get, it is all too easy to sign up for something that may cause financial constraints later.
Here Are Five Things You Should Consider When the Topic of Student Loans Arises:
- Explore every other option first—especially the free ones. Taking the time to research your financial aid alternatives could help you save immensely later, freeing your funds so that you can graduate and look forward to investing more easily in your future. With federal financial aid like a Pell Grant, you could receive up to $5,815—and this will not have to be repaid.
- Make use of the resources at your current school or the one you are thinking of attending. Become a fixture in the financial aid office if you must, spending time exploring all the grants and scholarships that are available to you. While many borrowers later bemoan the fact that they were not given all the information necessary before taking out student loans, it is also true that many students do not make enough time to ask questions and keep digging for better options. Seek out the information you need to make educated decisions.
- Be educated on the pros and cons of federal and private loans. Federal loans almost always offer better interest rates, do not require that you begin making payments while you are still in school, and allow for more latitude later if you are having trouble with your payment plan. You may need private loans also though if federal loans do not cover your expenses—for graduate school, perhaps. Find out more about federal versus private student loans here.
- Consider going to a less expensive school. While that may seem like a let-down at first, most graduates can tell you years later that the emphasis should be on what you learn rather than where. And if you can get a full or partial scholarship to a smaller or lesser-known school, avoiding hefty student loans may be well worth it. If this interests you, delve into the statistics of graduates from the schools you are considering, and see how successful they are in getting jobs later.
- Try to have a firm grasp on your educational goals. This can be difficult—especially if you are just leaving high school and entering college. You may end up changing your mind, and your major, several times before graduation; however, if you have a grasp on what it is you want from college, and what you expect later, this may help you decide on which college (and tuition) is best for you in the long run.
If you currently have student loan debt, or if your finances need an overhaul, an experienced attorney from Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC can review your case and discuss all the available options with you. Our attorneys have decades of experience in serving clients as they navigate through challenging financial situations, to include student loan issues, bankruptcy and other debt management processes. Let us review your case and discuss what would work best for you. We are here to help!