Many students may have their plans already set in place for the fall semester of 2011, despite the fact that there are still some potential last-minute scholarship or grant financial aid opportunities, but most will find that the free financial assistance that may be available for the upcoming semester will have been exhausted and this is where many begin to consider student loans as a way to help meet costs for attending college. However, student loans have been a major topic recently due to the fact that students and graduates alike are either on track to acquire a great deal of student loan debt or for those who may have graduated only a month or so ago will be carrying a great deal of student loan burden with them into their next phase of life.
It’s because of rising tuition costs that many feel they must turn to student loans as a way to help them earn their degree, but advisers want students to consider alternatives before borrowing, as there are routes that may be taken early in a student’s life to help them avoid the need for student loans, but also, for those who may simply not have enough funding at the present time there may be help as well.
Understandably, students will want to get through college as quickly as possible, as many are ready to earn their degree and begin their career. However, colleges charge students by their credit hours and, depending on how many courses they take and what types of courses that a student happens to be enrolled in, their tuition and fees may be more or less on a semester to semester basis. In some cases, students have benefited from researching how much they will be charged per semester hour and, for those who are struggling financially, taking a lighter course-load each semester, which understandably will extend the amount of time a student is in college, can help reduce the overall costs that will be paid out of pocket, if enough financial aid is not offered.
In fact, some students may be able to avoid student loan debt by enrolling part-time and attending classes over a longer period of time rather than the traditional four-year track, while also potentially working. Obviously, the total amount that a student pays will likely be the same no matter if they expand their college career beyond four years or not, but students will find that they may be able to earn their degree without student loans.
While financing may also be an opportunity that some students can take advantage of, as paying throughout the semester can be less burdensome than one large student loan tuition payment upfront, parents can also begin preparing for college costs by either setting up a 529 savings or prepaid tuition plan for their child.
Furthermore, there are options like opting for a more affordable school, as there are quality educational institutions that are not as costly as others, particularly if a student chooses between a public and private university. While many parents and students will want to attend a college that may have a very reputable name, like Harvard or Oxford, but many find that when student loans are necessary to attend these institutions they will be walking out with debt in an amount that may not be comparable to their earnings if they are able to find employment position after graduation. Sadly, degrees from prestigious universities do not necessarily carry as much weight today as they once did and will not guarantee employment either.
What advisers want students to focus on is, choosing a reputable, well-established educational institution but implementing alternative options to student loans if scholarship and grant funds have not been made available to meet a particular student’s needs. While a great deal of time and applying must go into the scholarship and grant search process, even if a student comes up short in terms of free funding, there are still alternative college degree paths or financing options that may be available to help students eventually earn their degree but without a great deal of debt upon graduating.