Don’t Be A-Loan: How to Overcome Student Loan Debt

 

One of the most frequently asked questions among prospective, current, and former college students is, “How am I going to pay for my time in college?”

During my junior and senior years of high school, I asked myself this question every day. I knew I didn’t want to go down the loan-ly road, so to speak, so I did everything I could to stay away from that path. However, when loans just aren’t avoidable, there are many ways to overcome them and enjoy life debt-free.

1. Get a loan with a low – or no – interest rate.

Loans are already expensive enough without adding interest into the picture. Banks and other financial institutions offer plenty of loan options, and many even advertise low interest rates when they are available.

Maybe you’ve been offered a federal student loan and are thinking about accepting it. If you accept a subsidized loan, the government will pay the interest while you’re in school and for the first six months after you finish school. This is one big advantage that a subsidized loan has over an unsubsidized loan, which requires you to pay all of the interest.

I learned all of this through careful research and advice during high school, and it helped me clear the fog that lurks over the student loan process. The key is to start researching loans early so that you know what’s out there and what is considered low when it comes to interest rates.

2. Meet with a financial advisor.

All colleges and universities have financial aid departments that exist to help students navigate through the financial aspects of earning their degrees. Whatever financial question you may have, you can count on your school’s financial aid department to know the answer, and they are often able to explain difficult financial concepts in ways that even journalism majors like me can understand.

3. Make payments while in college, if possible.

College is stressful and time-consuming. However, many people manage to keep their grades up while also holding down a part-time job. Send in an application to your favorite store or restaurant. Mow lawns during the summer. Become a babysitter. Getting any kind of job can help you earn cash that can knock chunks off of your student loan total. If you find a stable job and come across a loan that you can make payments on while you’re in school, even if it’s just payments on interest, that’s great!

If your loan does not offer this type of payment plan, start a loan fund that you can save until you are able to start paying back your loans. Interest may accumulate, depending on the type of loans you have, but at least you will have a head start on paying back what you owe if you begin saving now.

What about those who have already been to college, but are still paying back their student loans? There are many doable ways to save money each month, and these small tips can be major difference-makers when it comes to making loan payments.

1. Donate a few dollars each day to your loan fund.

If your loan repayment schedule is pretty flexible, you may not need to worry about dedicating massive amounts of your monthly income to paying back student loans. Try dropping a few dollars each day into a piggy bank. Little things like skipping the drive thru every once in a while can add up to surprising savings over time.

2. Cut back to your necessities.

If you’re under a tighter loan repayment schedule, you will obviously need to make some bigger changes to your financial life. We all have a few expenditures in our lives that we can trim back every now and then. You may need to skip entertainment, eating out, and unnecessary splurging at the mall in order to make a quick and noticeable difference in your savings. No one wants to hear that they can’t ever see a movie or buy a new outfit again, but nixing these habits for a few months at a time can lead to surprising financial gains.

These are just a few of the many ways to combat student loan debt. By implementing these and other student loan tips, you’ll be sure to come out of the student loan battle on top.

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Holly Nelms studies Mass Communications at East Tennessee State University. She loves writing and hopes to become a journalist after graduation.

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