College can be a great way to boost your career prospects and to give you the confidence to chase your dreams. Unfortunately, unless you have parents who are willing to pay for your fees and board, or you have managed to save a big chunk of cash, you’re going to need to borrow money. Not all graduates finish college with the same level of debt as when they started; there are ways to minimize the amount you borrow so you don’t have the payments hanging over your head, so consider following these steps.
Look for scholarships
If you have a particular skill, such as being great at a certain sport, or you’re willing to put the work in and go through the application process, scholarships can help with the cost of college. It’s worth getting some advice from scholarship experts if possible. For example, asmscholarships.com is a great source for those looking for sports scholarships in the USA.
There are lots of different kinds of scholarships; they aren’t just for grade A students or those who are great at athletics. For example, there are scholarships for women, minorities, those who have creative skills, people who’ve served their community and much more. Some scholarships can be worth thousands each year, meaning that you will graduate with less debt.
Go to an inexpensive college
While you may have a dream school in mind, it’s worth shopping around to see whether the degree you want to do would be cheaper at another college. The difference in fees between the most and least expensive colleges in the USA is huge, and some students at the more prestigious schools often feel they are just paying for the name recognition.
In addition to fees, you should also look at the general cost of living. Big, expensive colleges often mean more debt because of extras such as:
- Rent: prestigious colleges are often set in cute but expensive towns, so off-campus rents can be sky-high
- Food, transport and general living expenses can soon add up
- Field trips are often pricier
- The cost of books and supplies: before you commit to a course, find out how much you’ll need to put aside for these extras
However, there can be one advantage to going to one of the more prestigious schools such as an Ivy League establishment. They tend to have more scholarships available and help for those from poorer backgrounds, so you may be able to find financial support.
Gone are the days when you could pay for college with a part-time job. However, if you work just a few hours a week, this can help with day-to-day expenses, so you can borrow less in student loans. Around half of full-time college students have a part-time job, most working around 20 hours a week; and if you can fit this around your studies then you can make extra cash and get some work experience under your belt. The summer break can also be a good time to pick up a temping job or to get some overtime, which can help you become more financially stable.