More than half of students who attended college left school in debt, according to the May 2019 report by the Federal Reserve. The amount of education-related debt in 2018 was typically between between $20,000 and $24,999, and two in ten of those students who still owe money are behind in their payments. But smart planning can help you graduate with less debt.
“The time to reduce your debt is before you incur it, not after you graduate,” says Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president and publisher of the website Edvisors. He notes that graduating with $33,000 in debt is equivalent to having a $350 monthly car payment for 10 years.
Financial aid officers say there are lots of sources for aid that doesn’t have to be paid back, and more students need to exhaust those resources first. My niece managed to graduate from a state university with no debt by putting together a selection of scholarships and grants.
Pell grants or loans are not the only options. The federal government, states, individual colleges and universities and thousands of private organizations offer grants and scholarships that don’t need to repaid. Some of those are need-based, some merit-based and some a combination. Two other options are ROTC and taking on part-time jobs.
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