Student loan debt does more than keep some millennials up at night, trying to figure out how they will stay current in their monthly student loan payments while they also pay for food, clothing, transportation and rent. Student loan debt is keeping some people from owning a home. As with credit cards and as challenging as it can be, the sooner you pay off student loans, the better.
Steps to Less Student Loan Debt
However,simply paying the loans down could qualify you for a mortgage. So too could setting a limit on how much student loan debt you’re willing to take on. To reduce the amount of student loans you have to repay, consider:
- Living with your parents until you get your degree
- Applying for educational grants and scholarships(Don’t just apply for one grant or one scholarship. Apply for several grants and scholarships annually or each semester.)
- Sharing an apartment or house with two or more roommates
- Creating a spending budget and sticking with it
- Working a full-time or part-time job while attending college
Go with low interest student loans when you do take out loans. Compare private loan interest rates against federal rates. Don’t assume that one is automatically lower than another. Whichever route you take, look to student loans as a last option to pay for tuition.
Ask your parents to check with their employers to see if they offer scholarships or grants. If you work, check with your employer’s human resources representatives to see if you qualify to receive tuition assistance. Earning high grades could help you to get most of your tuition paid for by your employer, depending on the type of tuition assistance program your employer offers. Also, check with the college or university you’re attending to see if they offer tuition assistance or know of places where you can apply for scholarships and grants.
Limit the amount of loans you’ll take out compared to the salary that jobs in your major pay. For example, if you’re studying to be a cosmetologist and jobs for cosmetologists where you live pay $35,000 or less, you may not want to take out a $20,000 loan to get a cosmetology certificate or degree.
Which leads to another point – consider enrolling in a community college or technical school to get certificates or your associate’s degree. Two years at a community college could save you hundreds of dollars in tuition. Just make sure that the majority of the credits that you earn at a community college are transferable to a four-year school.
Road from Student Loans to Home Ownership
Should you take out student loans, start paying extra on the loans. Even if you pay $50 extra a month on loans, it can make a difference over the lifetime of the loans. Create a student loan repayment plan. Avoid taking on new debts while you’re repaying your loans. Another option that you could consider is to work with an experienced financial advisor. This option might prove beneficial if you invest a portion of your money and start building long term equity.
Consider a rent to own option. Include a clause in your rent to own agreement that allows you to walk away from the mortgage should you decide not to buy the property at the end of the lease agreement. If you’re a school teacher or public servant,check with the government to see if you qualify for loan forgiveness. Serving in AmeriCorps or the military could also offer you repayment options that could put home ownership within reach.
Move to a rural area and you could take advantage of a USDA home loan. Think about what you want to do after you graduate from college. If your work aligns with a rural lifestyle, check into how much you’d pay on a house in a rural neighborhood. Home ownership might also come through the purchase of an older home that you fix up.