A college degree is not only about choosing the right major, but the financial aspect can impact your lives for years to come. Unless you are in the fortunate position of having sufficient funds to pay tuition and living costs comfortably, how to finance your education will be an important part of your decision-making with implications for years to come.
Return on Investment
Before deciding on a college and how to pay for it, check to see if the investment will give the returns that you are hoping for. A college degree is not a guarantee for a high-paying job.
Consider the present state of the economy and where it will be when you graduate. What are the job market trends and what salary can you expect. Compare what you could earn to the average cost of living, plus what you have to repay for any eventual loans that you might have to take. If there is a big plus at the end, then you are good. Otherwise you might want to consider alternative colleges, majors or funding.
Benefit from other people’s experience, take a look at family and friends to see how they are doing and learn from the challenges that they have encountered.
Taking out a loan is the obvious form of financing. Most loans require a signatory as a form of collateral, if you do not want to bind any family member to your future debts there are possibilities to get student loans without a signatory.
Regardless of where you live, or decide to study, there will be a government supported loan program for students. Conditions will differ, but alongside private providers you will be able to cover your college expenses. So do your homework before committing yourself.
A student loan does have the benefit of peace of mind during your studies, but starting your adult life with a large amount of debt might not be everyone’s cup of tea. There are alternatives that you might want to consider.
Ask the Family
You will be surprised how many family members will be willing to chip in to get you through college. Showing your own dedication by saving for college is both helpful and will further convince family and friends that you are serious.
Not everyone is blessed with a large and caring family but those who are should first see how much support the family can give, and find short term solutions to compensate for any remaining expenses, before committing to high interest loans.
Another alternative to finance your studies , scholarships can take many forms. There are merit-based scholarships, awarded to students based on their extraordinary athletic or academic achievements. There are also programs that support specific groups like women, military or students with specific economic or social backgrounds.
Scholarships can range from one-time payments to programs that cover all tuition expenses. It is worth spending time doing research to see if you could be eligible for any support.
Work and Save
It is quite common in European countries for students to work and study to get through college simultaneously. In Europe, college fees are not high, usually free for locals, and the government often supports students with a monthly payment additionally special tax exemptions if they work.
It is a different picture in the United States, where funding tuition fees with a part-time job is challenging. Nevertheless if you consider the ROI mentioned before, it might be worth the extra time and effort to get a degree with no debt and work experience on top.
There is no doubt that it is better to go through life with a college degree than without, but a college degree is not a golden-egg-laying-goose. A little diligence and a few years hard work will definitely pay out on the long run.