While attending college can be an invaluable, life-changing experience, it can be expensive. Many students find themselves in debt after graduation. For some people, graduating with loads of debt can delay significant life events like purchasing a home, buying a car, getting married, starting a family, or saving for retirement because they can’t afford it. Instead, they feel pressured to choose between career options based solely on the salary rather than how well they match their goals. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize and prevent college debt before beginning your first course. Listed below are tips for reducing debt from the start.
Make investments that secure your financial future.
When you prepare to go to college, you and your parents or legal guardians may make plans for how you can invest in your future. If your goal for taking control of your money ahead of college is entering the investing world, don’t go into it without guidance. Consider investing with an online brokerage—like Questrade—with features geared toward developing first-time investors’ financial and investment literacy. Questrade is an online brokerage notable for having low fees compared to competitors and big banks. Additionally, since there’s no longer a Questrade inactivity fee, investors don’t have any annual fees to pay. With Questrade, beginners can engage in self-directed investing or use a pre-built portfolio. Going the self-directed route enables investors to take matters into their own hands and build their investment portfolios. However, by using a pre-built portfolio, investment beginners can use lower fee portfolios created by experts that help them achieve their investing goals. Determine which of these options works for you and begin investing in your financial future.
Work your way through college.
Putting a paycheck toward college expenses is another way to minimize debt early in college. Consider seeking part-time jobs, weekend work, or taking on hours you can work after your classes. Doing so would put you in company with many others—an estimated 67.3 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients in their twenties have employment. Whether you work in retail, freelancing, babysitting, or you start a business that requires little to no startup capital like making and selling crafts, take on a venture that will be profitable enough to help you avoid taking out loans as much as possible.
Look for grants and scholarships.
Unlike loans, grants and scholarships are forms of financial aid that won’t leave you in debt. You don’t have to pay these forms of aid back in most cases, making these options more attractive to students and their families. Some financial aid packages may depend on your needs, others on your merits and athletics. An expert college admissions advisor can help you find and apply for scholarships that best fit your grades, extracurricular activities, and test scores. Additionally, they can help you determine which colleges and universities are most affordable for your needs and provide counseling, essay editing, resume-building, internship matching, and test prep that increases your chances of getting into Ivy League institutions like Yale, or whatever you consider your dream school.
Boost your savings early ahead of college.
Data suggests that nearly 43 million Americans with federal student loan debt owe an estimated average of more than $37,000 for federal loans; the national student debt continues to rise in the United States. A surefire way to minimize student debt is to save as much money as possible before you enroll in college and apply your savings to fixed and non-fixed college expenses. To make the most of your savings and defray costs, consider renting or buying used books and seeing if retailers other than your school bookstore provide them at lower prices. Ultimately, an early start on saving money can be beneficial. When you start your savings early, you have increased opportunities to save more money and increase your money’s ability to compound on itself when you make excellent investments for your future.