Some people delay college because they fear a large student loan debt, but there are ways to graduate with less debt. Most people aren’t born with a silver spoon, and if they want to attend college, they have to apply for federal or private student loans. The cost of college can add up quickly, and upon graduation, it’s normal to have $20,000 or more in student loan debt. Rather than let this figure scare you, consider seven ways to graduate with less debt.
1. Take AP Courses in High School
If you’re looking for ways to graduate with less debt, early planning is key. For example, you might enroll in AP courses while in high school. These courses are free to take in high school, and the test for college credit is under $100. Before taking an AP course, contact the colleges of your choice to learn whether AP courses can count as credit.
2. Start off at a Community College
Rather than spend four years attending a university, complete your first two years at a community college. Tuition at a community college is much cheaper, and depending on whether you work, you may be able to pay for your schooling out-of-pocket. This can reduce the need for federal or private student loans, thus helping you graduate with less debt.
3. Don’t Take Unnecessary Classes
Sure, an introductory to art class may sound interesting, but if a course is not related to your major, think twice before enrolling. There’s nothing wrong with taking one or two courses just for fun. However, if you enroll in unnecessary classes each semester, this can increase your student loan debt by thousands of dollars.
4. Buy Used Books
Student loans can be used for tuition as well as college supplies. To reduce your overall costs, consider purchasing used books, or shopping for your books online. Depending on your class and instructor, you might be able to find books in electronic form, which can increase your savings. At the end of each semester, sell your books to the bookstore to recoup some of your investment.
5. Go to a State School
The thought of leaving home and traveling to a different state may sound exciting. This is your opportunity to exert your independence and be on your own. But if you are attending school with a student loan, going to a college out-of-state will greatly increase your student loan debt. Rather than venture out of your home state, consider statewide colleges and universities.
6. Make in-school Payments
Federal student loan repayment doesn’t start until 6 to 9 months after graduation. This gives you time to find a job and adjust to life outside of school. However, if you want to graduate with less debt, consider working while you’re in school and make periodic payments. Even if you only make interest payments while in school, this can significantly reduce how much you owe after graduation.
7. Go to a Public College
Not only should you consider a state college, but also a public college. Private colleges typically offer smaller classrooms, and this is an excellent way to attend school with students who share your beliefs and philosophies. Unfortunately, private colleges charge more per credit, which can increase how much you owe after graduation.
There is no denying the high cost of college. But if you’re smart with your money and take steps to reduce your debt while in school, you can avoid payment shock upon graduation. What steps have you taken to reduce your student loan debt?