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Historically, there has always been worry over the cost of college tuition, according to an article Time Magazine published last year. But no matter how bad people thought things were 20 or 40 years ago, the scale has increased to where tuition costs exceed financial aid in almost every instance. Parents of future college coeds aren’t the only ones noticing. In fact, the cost of college tuition and the problem of student debt have often been a subject of spirited debate among politicians of the day.
Here are some things you can start doing to help you on your way to a degree without breaking the bank:
1. Maintain a part-time job
Working and attending college isn’t an easy price to pay, but it’s well worth it if you can cover some costs such as room and board. Keeping living expenses out of your student debt will help you consolidate costs and work that much harder in school since you’re helping to pay for it.
No matter what your hard-earned cash goes to (books or a bed), make sure that you find a job with flexible hours. Ideally, your job should also contribute to your career path, but there’s no shame in working part-time at the skating rink to put yourself through college. Help minimize your debt by working while in school.
2. Attend a community college
There’s no fault in saving money, and community colleges offer programs to help you do just that. Aside from a considerable drop in tuition, community and junior colleges offer several programs to help nontraditional students obtain a degree. What’s more, if you’re not exactly sure what you want to major in yet, a local community college lets you knock out your generals for less money and gives you flexibility to decide before transferring to a larger college or university. According to scholarships.com, students often excel from a community college environment where they can learn at their pace and have flexible class schedules leaving room for a job.
3. Use Open Education Resources
For those who aren’t aware, the increased use of technology can be a good thing for those trying to become educated. Open Education Resources provide free online textbooks and other vital learning materials that are quite costly elsewhere. By making use of tools like these ones, students take more responsibility for their learning and aren’t so weighed down by the prices and fees of expensive books.
Yes, books account for only a portion of the great cost that comes with attending college, but a penny saved is one less penny on your student debt — and those pennies tend to add up. Some colleges, like Salt Lake Community College, provide these cost effective alternatives for their students.
4. Manage student debt wisely
If there’s no way around getting a student loan, you’re not alone. Latest reports claim that Americans owe nearly $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, which totals higher than the nation’s total credit card debt. So misery loves company, but how can you get a loan and live to tell the tale years later? Many government loans are subsidized, so make sure to compare interest rates before getting into one. Government grants are ideal, but if that’s not an option, make sure you know your loans terms and grace periods before signing anything. Make a plan to pay off your loan by saving each month, and keep your focus on paying it off — especially through the “thin” years of studenthood.
One problem many students encounter is not really knowing their total debt and that can cause problems if your spending isn’t carefully watched. If you work hard to save and spend sparingly now, it makes a difference in paying that loan off years later.
These suggestions are to help you attend college without becoming overwhelmed by student debt, although student loans sometimes are a viable option. If you think there might be more options out there to help you pay for tuition, you’re correct. Learn more about SLCC Promise program in helping you cover college costs.