How can I pay off my student loan debt?
A recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that 50% of recent college graduates have student loans, with an average student loan debt of $10,000. The average cost of college increases at twice the rate of inflation.
With the rising costs of college, it is difficult for aspiring college students to get enough scholarships and grants to pay for college and necessities. More and more college students are forced to use credit cards to pay for essentials such as books and school supplies. According to the United Marketing Service (UCMS), the average number of credit cards per student is 2.8.
Here are 8 ways to help with paying off student loan debt:
- Develop a plan. Develop a plan to pay off your student loan debt before you graduate.
- Save your money. Each summer, throughout your college education, get a job or internship. Save half the money in a high-interest savings account such as www.emigrantdirect.com (5.05%) or www.ing.com (4.5%). After a few months, consult a financial advisor to earn the highest possible return on your money. After college, you can use the money saved during all 4 years to pay down your college debt.
- Use caution with consolidation. Consolidating student loans combines your loans into one payment but may or may not provide you with a lower interest rate. Do extensive research before consolidating your student loans. You may not be eligible for various student loan forgiveness programs if you consolidate your student loans.
- Exchange work to reduce debt. Perform volunteer work or work for the following in exchange for reducing student loan debt: teaching in certain locations with low-income students or areas with a shortage of teachers, providing legal and medical services in low-income areas, or working for Americorps or the Peace Corps.
- Get a work-study job. To help pay for college costs, get a work-study job on campus to help defray the cost of college. Go to your campus employee office to ask about their work-study program. Work-study jobs pay at least the minimum wage for that state.
- Apply for lots of scholarships. In recent years, money has been reduced from the budget for college scholarships, so it is harder to get a scholarship to college. You can increase your chances of getting a scholarship by completing as many scholarship applications as you can. If you complete at least 50, you should receive at least 5 scholarships. Also, go to your campus financial aid office and ask about financial aid programs that the schools provide to students. Become friendly with the financial aid office employees who will alert you to financial aid programs when they become available. You can also search the internet for scholarships. Some scholarship websites are www.fastweb.com, www.scholarships.com, www.finaid.org, www.college-scholarships.com, or www.scholarshiphelp.org.
- Apply for grants. Apply for as many grants and scholarships as possible. You can also apply for federal grants such as the Federal Pell Grant (Pell Grant), the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Program, Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP), and National Science Scholars Program. Some grant websites are www.scholarships-ar-us.org/grants/www.scholarships-ar-us.org/grants/women.htm, www.careersandcolleges.com.
- Protect your credit. Try to avoid making late payments on your student loans. This will be reported on your credit report and can remain for up to seven years if you do. If you are having financial hardship, call the student loan company and inform them of your situation, ask for a hardship or loan deferment to ensure your credit is not damaged until you can start making payments again.