Student loan debt in the US is more than $830 billion. That’s too many zeros. Are you facing mounting student loan debt? Are you considering taking out a loan in order to pay for expenses? Are you just out of high school and considering taking out student loans to help you foot the extra bills that the next fours years of college will bring?
After starting college, I decided that a laptop was an absolute necessity. As I understood, student loans should be used to assist the student with expenses that are related to his or her education. Perhaps, I was getting ahead of myself assuming that a laptop was a necessity? However, I still went online, applied for a Stafford loan for $2,500 and was able to get it. Purchasing the laptop was the first big mistake that I made. Why? The laptop was not a necessity, however, when confronted by the opportunity to have new toy, I succumbed to the materialistic monster inside of me and still went for it.
Only take out a loan if you absolutely need it. Do not convince yourself that you need new clothes, gear, electronics to be successful in college. This may sound like a old fashioned person talking, but believe me, the pay back was a gruesome process that I dealt with for five years. Personally, I chose to live a life that was free of materialistic pursuits in order to pay off my debt. It has helped me sleep better at night, knowing that I do not face a mountain of expenses every month.
Stafford loans give you the option to pay back while you are in school or you can wait until you have completed your education. In my case, I took out a total of $8,000 in student loans over the course of three years. Most of my loan, I paid back immediately. I worked part time for two years and the full time for the next three years. I was able to always maintain my payments and paid higher than the required amount. In this way, I was able to save on interest fees and charges. Personally, I recommend applying your tax refund to pay off your student loan. It can be tempting to apply that fat government check to other things. Look at it this way, you’re getting closer to paying off something that will loom over your head like a dark cloud. It becomes lighter and lighter as you begin to pay it off.
Another option is to consult your Financial Aid Advisor about programs that you can enroll in that will help pay off your student loan debt. Some teachers in America, opt to teach in low income schools for five years. Their reward is that their student loan debt is paid off. This can be a good option for those in the education sector.
Defaulting on your student loan or not making the minimum payment can result in huge penalties. Remember, the government does not take it lightly when you default on a loan. This is a permanent glitch on your record and will remain with you for life. Credit ratings affect your ability to get and keep a job, purchase a home or car and many more life decisions.
Finally, only take out what you know that you need. Speak to a Financial Aid Advisor and get some counselling before doing anything immediately. Being independent is a great feeling, but you don’t want it to cost you your whole life. Your education is something that can never be taken away from you. It should not cost a fortune, but it should be well worth it!