According to Business Insider, in 2016 student loan debt in the U.S. exceeded $1.3 trillion—and it shows
no signs of ever slowing down. At this point, it’s not unusual for new graduates to enter the workforce
with five or six figures of crushing debt affecting their future. We don’t have to be slaves to student
loans, however. There are ways to either avoid loans altogether or at least reduce their future burden
on your life.
1. Choose a local school. By remaining at an in-state school, you can drastically cut your tuition expenses
and, as a result, your student loan debt. Choosing a local school isn’t necessarily enough, however. You
also need to compare the costs of all your local school options. Choosing a lower-priced local school
(assuming you have that option) will further reduce your expenses.
2. Live at home. When you go to a local school, you may be able to continue living with your parents
throughout your college years, which means you won’t have rent, utilities and other expenses. Even if
your parents ask you to contribute to the household, you’re not likely to spend as much as you would in
a dorm or an apartment by yourself. If the school is too far from your parents’ home to commute,
consider living with another relative or finding an inexpensive apartment to share with roommates.
3. Work to self-fund college. It may not be ideal, but it is totally possible to work while going to school.
When I went to college in my twenties, I maintained a full-time job and ran my own agency, thus
reducing my reliance on student loans. You don’t want your schoolwork to suffer, but it is very possible
to work full-time hours and still do well in school.
4. Apply for grants and scholarships. Never make the assumption that you won’t or don’t qualify for
assistance through grants and scholarships—even if you’ve been turned down in the past. Apply for the
help and see what comes through.
Taken carefully, student loan debt can be a good decision as it helps you finish your education and
secure higher-paying work. Just make sure you protect your future by minimizing the debt you take on
and using it only for true education expenses.