How to avoid student debt

Collectively, the US has $1.4 trillion in student debt, which accounts for 35% of non-housing debt. These numbers highlight the need to learn how to avoid student debt.

American Student Assistance and the National Association of Realtors conducted a survey to measure the impact of student debt.  The results suggest that we need to better about choosing colleges we can actually afford.

As a way to reduce costs, 15% of survey respondents said that they currently live with friends or family and don’t pay rent.

Even if people were able to pay for their own housing, 22% of the respondents reported that they delayed moving out of a family member’s home for two years after college because of their student loans.

The results suggest that student loan debt affects people’s ability to buy a house. Of the survey participants who are non-homeowners, 83% cited student loan debt as a factor delaying a house purchase.

One reason for racking up all that student debt could be related to the lack of knowledge around the cost of college. Unsurprisingly, a look at the survey respondent demographics show that only 24% chose their college due to financial fit. This could mean that the majority of respondents didn’t seriously consider the cost of college.

Twenty-eight percent of the respondents had a feeling that their college “might be expensive” or “might be cheap” but didn’t know much else. Meanwhile, 26% said that they had an understanding of tuition costs but little understand of other costs, such as fees and housing.

Your College Advisors Guide to A is for Admission
How can parents and students avoid student debt?
1. Take into account financial fit when choosing a college

Of course, academic fit is important, but financial fit should be just as important. The stress of student debt can negate the benefits of going to one’s dream school. Simply put, parents should work with their student to choose a college they can afford.

2. Pay attention to tuition, fees, and other costs

List out all the possible costs of attending college. If the student is keeping a car at college, include that cost as well. It’s better to overestimate than to underestimate. Start by looking up the tuition, fees, and housing costs. For example, the University of Arkansas Little Rock has listed this information for both in-state and out-of-state students.

3. Consider the future

College graduates with certain majors who go into certain fields will get paid more than others. If the student is planning to be in a career that doesn’t offer a particularly high salary, it’s even more important that they they attend a college they can afford. College grads will really feel the pain of student debt if their monthly payment ends up being a big portion of their salary.

Final Thoughts

Student loan debt can greatly affect one’s life. It can keep people from moving out of their parents’ house or keep them from buying a house. Students don’t need to let student debt control their life. Students should work with their parents to plan ahead and keep finances in mind when choosing a college. That way students will more fully reap the many benefits of a college education.

(Photo: University of Minnesota Duluth)