Sallie Mae was my best friend in college. More like a friend with benefits. She came and showered down little monetary raindrops all over me. However, shortly after, her showers turned into an ongoing torrential rain storm – that may never cease to end!
Going to college was one of the best experiences I’ve had, but burden of student loans that were coupled with my academic career has caused me to experience a stress that I could not prepare for.
Some people are blessed to attend college without ever paying a dime. With the abundance of scholarships, federal grants and big bank accounts, many students can matriculate through their undergraduate and/or graduate programs and never stress about having to pay off student loans after walking across the stage to receive their degrees.
While I was elated during my commencement services last May, I couldn’t help but think about the daunting financial circumstances that I would soon face. Yes, I occasionally thought about it while I was enrolled in school, but I didn’t have a choice. I had to take out loans or there was no way I could pay my tuition.
Luckily, I found a job a few months after graduating and I have income that makes paying off my student loans more realistic. On the other hand, because I graduated during the recession, many of my classmates have yet to find a job which makes the idea of paying Sallie Mae or other loan providers almost impossible.
While it may seem like those of us who have already finished school have no choice at this point, teens that have yet to enroll in college, have a few choices they can make before they sign their name in blood on the loan contracts.
Go to a local school: When I was applying to schools, I never considered going to a school in New York. The only thing on my mind was getting as far away from home as I could! Don’t get me wrong, I love NYC, but I needed a temporary change of pace and atmosphere. If I had logically compared the tuition of some of the schools in New York to that of Clark Atlanta, I would have probably given it a second thought. Public colleges often have separate tuitions for students who are residents of that state. The tuition for in-state students is usually significantly lower than the price out-of-state students will have to pay. Normally, private institutions have a set tuition that both in-state and out-of-state students must pay. Thus, a public school may be the best alternative.
Apply for every scholarship that you find: There are many websites that help students find scholarships, but oftentimes the application process may be time consuming and students let these opportunities slip away. While I had accounts on Fastweb.com, Scholarships.com and CollegeBoard.com, I never used these essential resources to the fullest extent. Taking the time to apply for scholarships, grants and fellowships could alleviate the financial burden that could lie ahead if you rely on student loans to pay for your education.
Transfer!: If you want to graduate from a particular school that is not a public school in your state, consider starting off at a local institution, then transfer your earned credits to the school of your choice. In doing so, you can lighten the hefty price tags that may be associated with the school of your choice by transferring in after your sophomore or junior year. Before you make this choice, be sure that the prospective school will take the credits you earn at the first college.
These are just three alternatives you could take, but I’m sure there are many other ways around the student loan fly trap. Be wise.
If you took out student loans and had the choice to do it all over again, what would you do?