The period of life when you are researching and applying to colleges, and then ultimately picking the place where you anticipate you will spend the next four years of your life is so exciting. This time right before college, as well as the time spent in college is so unique and for many young adults, these are pivotal years spent learning both in and out of the classroom. Arguably one of the most transformative periods of life, undergrad lends itself to self-discovery, and with that comes new responsibilities. Although this time feels whimsy and exciting it is important that you realize that you will also have to oversee managing your own life, and for some that transition can have pitfalls. Making and learning from mistakes is part of the process, but following a predetermined plan will help to avoid and reduce certain mistakes and set you up to be able to enjoy this time without it costing you too much down the line.
Finding the Right Affordable College
The price tag on your education is greatly affected by which school you attend. This does not mean settle for a university simply because it is inexpensive, but it does mean research multiple options from Earnest and find one that meets both your educational goals and financial means. Taking out private student loans in order to pay for your education is a piece of the equation for many college students. If a loan does not come directly from the government, it is considered a private loan. Interest rates and repayment plans need to be researched and compared across lenders before deciding on which one is right for you. Even the slightest change in interest rates can have an impact of thousands of dollars on the back end. So, if you take out a private student loan to pay for your education and you too casually decided on your school of choice in the first place, you could end up overpaying for an experience that didn’t even suit your needs and wants.
Get Creative with Payment Options
Although you are using private student loans to foot the majority of your collegiate bill, there are other ways that you can earn or be awarded money towards your education that can chip away and that total cost. Understand that paying for college does not have to come from only one place you can piece together your payment plan, as long as the bill is covered, it makes no difference where the money comes from. Scholarships are grants hold thousands of dollars in unpaid funds annually simply because they are resources that have not been tapped. Simple online searches can present you with tons of resources for seeking out and applying for these opportunities and the time you spend doing so will be so worth it after you see how much it can save you on your loan totals.
Start Early and Finish on Time
Dual enrollment is an opportunity for students who are eager to begin their college coursework to start early. Some high school courses will offer this and count as credit towards your degree, and the best part is, they are free. Often there are grade requirements applied in order for these classes to be counted as credit so be sure to find out the conditions ahead of time and give your best effort to these classes since the grade will show up on your official college transcript. In addition to, or in place of, also make it a high priority to follow the recommendations given to you regarding staying on track to graduate inside the traditional four-year window associated with most college degrees. Work closely with your advisor and check in often to make sure that you do not miss deadlines or important classes mandatory to your major. If you do not stay on top of this you run the risk of being forced to extend your studies, and that means also extending your expenses. Your initial private student loan amount may not cover the extra semesters that come as a result of poor planning or failed courses, not to mention paying for the same class multiple times is an inefficient use of your borrowed funds.
Find the Freebies
College campuses are full of activities that are free to the student body and cover a wide range of interests so finding ways to be social on a budget is easy. You really should not have to break the bank just to find some fun. Study groups are also a way to combine your desire to meet and make new friends with your academic priorities. Restaurants and other establishments close to campus also likely offer a student discount so never leave home without your student ID, it could save you cash that you might need for a rainy day, or a special splurge down the road. Your class commute is another place to pinch some pennies. Inter campus bus routes might be free to students but if your school does not offer that, try to walk to and from your classes as much as possible. Even the short jaunts to and from your residence hall to you class can add up, and if you can eliminate the need for a vehicle all together that will significantly cut down your budget month to month.
Create and Care About a Budget
Regardless of how money savvy you are, or if your finances are flush or bust, you need to create a budget and do your best to maintain it throughout your undergrad. Sit down and plot out a list of anticipated expenses each month and figure out where the money is coming from to cover the fixed costs, as well as the fun money. Learning how to live inside your means is a skill that will serve you well during college and beyond. Especially as someone who faces private student loan repayment, you need to have a responsible grasp on your spending as early as possible so that when the stakes are really high postgrad you do not make mistakes that could cost you your good credit standing, something that is easy to lower but hard to recover. Revisit your budget each semester as you learn and fine tune your skills regarding money management and that will also set you up for success and help to prevent you from falling into debt over late-night pizza.