You’re ready for college, and a ton of questions are going through your head: what should I major in? What will my experience be like? How hard will the classes be? It’s normal to be nervous about these things, but don’t forget one of the most important things you and your parents will need to have a handle on before you head off to school – how you’ll pay for college?
More and more students are relying on student loans due to the higher costs of higher education. Here are a few tips on knowing the costs of student loans before you graduate, so you’ll be prepared to tackle them once you’re on your career path.
College can be very, very expensive.
My wife and I married with a combined student loan burden of over $100,000. This is a huge number, but in these days, it’s becoming increasingly common to have a student loan burden that’s nearly unmanageable on a month-to-month basis once you graduate. Looking back, there are things we could have done to help with that burden. Neither of us knew the costs entirely till the bills started coming in. Neither of us applied to the scholarships we could have. Neither of us sat down with a loan adviser to help mitigate the costs. There are other things we missed, too. Understanding the huge expense of college makes it incumbet upon you to know what you’re going to pay, and how to lessen the burden.
There are people who can help you.
Your college will offer financial advice, and connecting with someone from the student aid services at your school can both help you understand the costs and help you to develop a plan to make the most of your college experience without paying a huge bundle. Your parents can also sit down with you and lay out the costs of financial aid you may be seeking. It’s important to have a plan, and to make the best plan, you’re going to need the help of people in the know who will advise you to make smart student aid decisions.
Your major makes a major difference.
The costs for being a liberal arts major are likely to be similar to the costs of being a business major. If you want college to prepare you for a lucrative career, understand the opportunities for individuals in your major once you’re through. If you want your college experience to net you a job in the future, the major that you choose may be in a growing job market, or a stagnant one. Don’t keep it from letting you pursue the career of your dreams – just understand that the career of your dreams might not make you the amount of money that another equally satisfying path might.
A degree doesn’t guarantee you a job (far from it!).
The magic word in today’s market it’s “degree.” It’s “experience.” This fact can help you in three ways. First, it allows you to seek out the internships and work opportunities while you’re still studying that will be attractive to potential employers in the future. Secondly, you may be able to secure a paid internship to help defray the costs of college. Finally, it can lead to an internship with a company that you’d like to work for after you graduate, which gives you a great opportunity to get hired right out of school. And guess what? Some of those opportunities may even help pay your loans.
Go into college with as much knowledge of the costs as possible, and an understanding of how you expect to begin paying them off. You’ll have a leg up on others who go to college without a clue of how the costs may affect their future. Maxfinaid.org offers a free student loan manual that shows all you need to know about financial aid.
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Brandon William Peach likes writing about lots of things including religion, pop culture, literature, marketing, politics, and education. His work has been featured at RELEVANT, Lure of Mac, I Think I Believe, Existimatum, and much more.