Minimizing Your College Loans - College on a Budget

By: Ken MacKenzie

College costs are going up and scholarships and grants don't seem to be keeping pace. For most, that means that college loans are the bridge to a college degree. Loans, such as Stafford, Perkins, Plus and private are readily available and many can fund their education with these student and parent loans. The problem is that you graduate, get a job and before you are settled in, have to begin paying back $20-40,000 or even more in loans. Students graduating with an advanced degree may be as much as $100,000 in debt.

If this is not your idea of heaven, here are a few methods that may allow you to cut that mountain of debt into a molehill. The first thing to consider is where you are going to school. Naturally, everybody wants to go to their first choice college and for many, that is a private, high-profile, high-cost college.

According to Collegeboard.com, the average cost of attending a private college during 2007-08 is over $23,000 per year. For a public college or university, the average cost is a bit over $6,000 and for a two year community college, just over $2,300.

If you are interested in getting through college without a lot of debt, try opting for a local state college or university, especially for the first couple of years. Resident tuitions are usually much lower than that charged to out-of-state residents. Take your basic courses there and get great grades, then you will have a good chance of transferring to the name school and getting even better financial aid, since you have a proven track record. Of course, once you've been there for awhile, you may just decide that the state school is really is pretty good and continue on to finish your studies there.

Cheaper still, go to your local community college first. Many courses will be transferable to a four year college, and the cost per course is far below that of the four year schools.

There are, of course, many other ways to lower the debt load of graduating college. Among them are joining the ROTC program at your school, joining the National Guard, volunteering for the Peace Corps or Americorps or VISTA, teaching, practicing law or medicine in certain federal or state designated localities.

For more information on these and other methods of lowering your student loan load, check http://www.college-loans.us/college-budget.html .


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