5 Ways to Reduce Your Student Loans in School

Student loan paperwork laying on a desk with a sharpened pencil

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One of the most challenging parts of attending college is finding a way to pay for it. Many students are graduating with a crippling amount of student loan debt. Student loans can limit what you can do after you graduate and be a real hindrance in beginning to building wealth and a solid future. Here are five ways to reduce the amount that you have in student loans when you graduate from college.

Choose an Affordable School

While it may be nice to attend your dream school or an Ivy League college, it may not be as beneficial as you think when you look at the price tag. A good state school where you qualify for in-school tuition can make attending college much more affordable. Depending on your career goals attending community college for a year or two may also help reduce the cost of your tuition. This can help you reduce the amount that you need to borrow just to cover tuition costs.

Apply for Needs-Based Scholarships and Grants

It is important to apply for the Pell Grant each year because many schools also look at this information to help determine needs-based scholarships. Additionally, you should look at state grants and school-specific scholarships and grants. There are scholarships and grants available to help students even if they do not have perfect grades, but it does take work to apply for them. Take time to look for the grants that may qualify for. Talk to your professors, your academic advisor, and the financial aid office. Each of these people may know of different opportunities that you may be eligible for.

Work in School

When you work, you reduce the amount you need to borrow for school. A part-time job can help cut back on the amount you need to borrow for living expenses. You can also use the money that you make and save it to cover the cost of your tuition. Some students do better in school with a more structured schedule that includes a part-time job.

Some employers will offer tuition reimbursement. This employer-sponsored plan means they will pay a set amount toward your tuition and classes each year. They may have guidelines for the types of classes they will cover or that you maintain a certain GPA. Using this option will help you to earn money to live and cover part of your tuition.

Look for jobs with higher earning amounts and less time you have to put in. Tutors can earn a lot per hour, as can waiters if you find the right restaurant. The hours are more flexible with your schedule.

Find Ways to Save on Living Expenses

Many colleges expect students to live in the dorms—especially in the freshman year—which is often more expensive than living off-campus. There may be exceptions to that depending on where your college is located. 

When you live off-campus, you can split the rent with roommates, and it can help reduce your overall costs. There are apartments that cater to college students and allow you to sign separate leases and will help you split utilities. You can also save on the amount you pay for food because the meal plans can be very expensive. It can be cheaper to prepare one large meal than several smaller meals. You can set up a group where you cook for each other and lower the amount you have to spend on food each month.

Skip the Car

While it is nice to have a car, it is not a necessity while you are in college. Generally, public transportation is good around universities, and you can usually find someone to take you to the store if you need to. You can take a taxi or use a car share service for those instances. When you skip having a car, you can save on gas and maintenance, insurance costs, parking costs, and the possible car payment. This type of savings can add up quickly and you may be surprised at how well you can get along without a car while you are in college.

Live Like a College Student

When you first go to college, it can be a rude awakening. Suddenly, you have to pay for things that magically appeared in your childhood home, such as shampoo and food. Many students have a difficult time cutting back and continue to shop and spend the same way that they did while they were living at home.

You can simply save money by living like a poor college student, which you are. This means that you do not buy a new outfit or video game every weekend. It means looking for cheaper forms of entertainment. You should still enjoy the time you spend at college, but in a way that does not cost you a lot of money. Creating a budget for college and sticking to it can help you do this.