How To Manage Your Student Loans: A Series (Part 2)
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Are you currently in college or want to get a step ahead of your student debt situation as you head off to college? In part 2 of our series, we look at how to best manage your student loans.
Did you know that just because you’re in the middle of your college experience, you can still influence your loan situation? In fact, there are a lot of options you still have at your disposal. Here are some of our recommendations:
1. Continue looking for grants and scholarships.
Many people may believe that grants and scholarships are only available for prospective students but that is definitely not the case. There are still ways you can get yourself free money by applying to these types of programs, it just takes a little digging to find.
2. Consider the impacts of your class schedule.
Students may think of picking classes as an opportunity to optimize for the most convenient schedule, however there are more ramifications to the way your class selection than just your schedule. By choosing classes with the goal of trying to graduate early in mind, you can ultimately cut down on the amount of time you need to be in school and as a result lower the amount of money you need to spend on school as well. Now there’s another side to this coin that also warrants some consideration. For example if you decide to switch majors, which many students do, you’ll also want to understand the implications that will have on the length of your tenure at your school. The bottom line? If you want to switch majors, do it sooner than later.
3. Meet with advisors.
Student counselors are great resources and should be something that every student takes advantage of. Their job is to make sure that students are getting the information they need to most effectively navigate their academic careers. They can be a huge help when it comes to effectively planning your classes and finding grants and scholarships. They can also look at your personal situation much more closely and tailor an action plan that’s much more optimized that you’d get from general advice.
4. Make payments while you’re in school.
It may not be easy, but you have the option to work part-time while studying for school. Whether that be waitering/waitressing at a local restaurant, getting an internship or being a brand ambassador, there are numerous ways you can make money while you’re in college. Depending on your situation, a work-study program might even be the best way to go because although you still get paid, your earnings won’t affect your eligibility for federal financial aid.
5. Start working on a budget.
If you’ve got some type of income while going to school, you’re welcome to spend that money on outings with friends and other luxuries - just stick to a budgetBudgeting will not only help ensure that you’re allocating some funds towards paying off your loan balance but also build and instill healthy financial habits that will benefit you for the rest of your life. And make sure you spend your loan money cautiously - if it feels like it’ll be hard to pay off now, there’s no guarantee that it will be easier to pay off later. What this means in practice is considering whether or not you need the larger meal plan or if dorming on-campus for multiple years is a complete necessity.
6. Consider taking time off from school.
Some students think taking time off from school has a negative connotation, but that’s not the case. There are a variety of reasons someone may want to take a year or two off from school. For example, someone who recently lost someone important in their lives may wish to put their academic career on hold as they try and work through their grieving process. Others may have found a once in a lifetime opportunity they just simply couldn’t pass up but requires their presence somewhere else for an extended period of time. Depending on your situation, it may be worthwhile to put some thought towards pausing on your classes for a year so you can save up more money than you would have otherwise. It may mean you graduate a year or two later but you’ll also be graduating with significantly less debt. Ultimately, it’s up to you to evaluate the trade-offs and decide what makes the most sense for you.
Our goal at MyHomePathway is to make sure you’re empowered with the knowledge to make the best financial decisions for your future. Are you ready for part 3 of our series, What To Do After College? Don't forget to follow us on social for daily tips and tricks.