Strategies to Pay for College

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Paying for education, whether for yourself or your children, can be scary. College is expensive, and you have heard horror stories about student loan debt. It doesn’t have to be that way. Making sensible choices allows you to manage expenses without ending up with a scary amount of debt. Like many things in life, balance is the key, and going all-in on one method or another isn’t always the best choice.

Student Loans Aren’t Scary

Education loans typically have a reasonable interest rate and are easy to obtain. There is nothing bad or predatory about them. Because they are easy to qualify for, many young people do not make the best decisions when taking out these loans. They work best when used as one method of financing your education. If you use them for your tuition, room, board, books, and living expenses for four years, they add up quickly.

It is worth noting there are different types of loans available to borrow money for college. Some are offered to students, and some are offered to parents. If you want to help reduce the debt your child incurs, but cannot carry the entire burden, you can take out a particular amount and have your child cover the remainder. It is important that both the parent and child be realistic about what they can afford and are willing to pay.

Pay Some Expenses as You Go

It is never too late to save money for college. Even if it is the summer before your freshman year, a job can provide enough over the summer to cover living expenses through the first year. A part-time job during the year gives you enough money for books and other miscellaneous expenses. Any money that you pay as you go is less money you need to borrow.

Look for Employment Options

There are many options to help finance education. Ask about work-study programs, internships, and resident-advisor programs. These jobs are designed with students in mind, so they have flexible hours and can be a great way to lower your education expenses. Don’t give up if these options are not available your freshman year. As you progress through your academic career, more opportunities will open up.

Talk to the School

Start talking to your school early in the admissions process. You want to take advantage of any opportunities for scholarships, grants, and other awards that can lower the cost of attending school. These opportunities are available, but you do have to seek them out. You should also talk to the financial aid office about the possibility of an installment plan. Many schools offer low interest or fee-only options that allow you to make monthly or several lump-sum payments over a semester. They can arrange any balance you have due, after subtracting loans and other aid. This can be an excellent way for parents to help their children with expenses. The student can earn aid and take out loans for a particular amount, and parents can cover the balance on an installment plan.

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