University life is no longer a distant dream for you. You are seeing this newly forged experience as “the world is my oyster!” Congratulations to you for having high aspirations and excitement, as you embark on this new phase in your life. You have dreams of the career that you’d like to embark on, making lots of money, being successful, and maybe moving a long way from mom and dad to venture out on your own. Moving to another state or attending an Ivy League school may sound intriguing, but WHOA!!! Let’s slow it down a bit and put things into perspective.
Many students have dreams of conquering the world, with ideal visions of what they were going to do, who they were going to be, and what they were going to achieve. Some students do realize all of their dreams and more, but for others their youthful, idealistic bubble may burst, when reality sets in. Upon graduation, they may not have that 6-figure income they dreamed of. Celebrity status hasn’t been achieved, and to make matters worse, student loans must be repaid, and that dream job seems to elude them. GROAN!! What to do?
Let’s hope you’re reading this as you begin looking at potential universities and not after your choice has been made. The #1 suggestion of how not to get buried into debt is to have a plan of how to minimize debt, in the first place. Here are some suggestions that hopefully can help:
- Let’s start with the university. Some pitfalls on moving out-of-state would be higher tuition costs. Plus, if you are not familiar with the cost of living (the price of food, gas, etc.), you could be in for a rude awakening. Do some research! Community universities are a good way to save money on the first couple of years of school. Then, one could transfer to a different one, if they choose. A word of caution though, not all of your university credits may transfer. This may be the case, especially, when transferring from a private university to a state school. Also, state schools, generally, are a lot less expensive than private universities.
- Housing is a huge consideration. The best way to save money, obviously, is to not have to pay rent or as little as possible. A good option might be to stay with mom and dad, a bit longer, or to have a roommate. If those options aren’t available, comparison-shop. The dorm on campus might be convenient, as far as not having to drive, but a nearby apartment might be a lot less money. An apartment, even further out, might be even less expensive, but also consider the added cost of gas and car insurance.
- Plan ahead. If you are looking for inexpensive, nearby housing, don’t procrastinate! Call the on-campus housing office of the university for recommendations. If you wait too long, you may find that all of your preferences are gone.
- Financial Aid. Financial Aid can be found in the form of scholarships and grants that don’t have to be paid back. Low interest student loans are the next best option.
- Consider employment. Whether it is part-time, full-time, seasonal or summer-time, any income will help offset the costs of a university.
- To eat out or dine in? Eating out can quickly add up. The best way to manage your finances is to create a budget. A good example of how to do this can be found at http://financialplan.about.com/od/moneyanduniversitystudents/l/blcollbudget.htm.
- Scaling back on non-essentials is yet another way to save money. Consider things that you want but don’t necessarily need. This can include iPads, iPhones, clothing…well, a myriad of things.
For more tips on how not to go into student loan debt, check out these videos by Clear Point Credit Counseling Solutions, http://video.bbb.org/clearpoint-student-loan-tips/clearpoint-student-loan-tips.html?campaignId=23504.
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