D orm life, parking permits, textbooks, groceries, gas and other miscellaneous student fees are just a few monetary obstacles college students encounter while trying to stay the course on the path to financial independence. However, for most students, the cost of tuition alone is often their primary concern as they navigate college expenses.
For many college students, the thought of managing student loan debt is incomprehensible. In the United States, there are more than 44 million borrowers with $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, according to a Forbes article,
“Student Loan Debt In 2017: A $1.3 Trillion Crisis.” The article also finds that the average Class of 2016 student has accumulated $37,172 in student loan debt, and student loan debt is the second highest consumer debt category behind mortgage debt.
For the majority of college students, debt seems unavoidable. Seventy percent of college students graduate with debt, according to an article on MarketWatch, “Watch America’s student-loan debt grow $2,726 every second.” The same article finds that only about 37 percent of borrowers are paying down their debts.
Yet, despite the statistics and the rising costs of attending college, students can take various steps to minimize debt. One solution is to attend community college, which offers introductory classes that are significantly more affordable than courses at major universities. Community colleges offer courses that charge around $1,000 for in-state tuition, according to a U.S. News article, “10 Reasons to Attend a Community College.” By contrast, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2016-2017 school year was $9,650 for state residents attending public universities, according to the College Board.
The numbers are higher for those who attend private universities or out-of-state colleges. During the 2016-2017 school year, the cost of tuition at private colleges was $33,480, according to the College Board. Tuition and fees for out-of-state students at public universities was $24,930.
The numbers show the advantages of completing general education courses at a community college and transferring to an in-state university after two years. However, some may not have this option due to their pursuit of a specific college major that community colleges or in-state schools don’t offer. In those cases, students should apply for scholarships and grants to reduce debt.
Each year, the U.S. Department of Education and universities award about $46 billion in grants and scholarship money, according to Debt.org. In addition, private sources such as foundations and nonprofit groups award about $3.3 billion in gift aid. Other resources include financial aid websites that list available scholarships, including FastWeb and Education Quest in Nebraska.
Though student loan debt can be crippling for many Americans, it is not impossible to minimize college debt. Attending community colleges and applying for scholarships and grants are two ways to save money. Students can also continue to apply for scholarships while taking college classes.
While some may see college debt as insurmountable, students can take advantage of available resources to overcome financial obstacles. By applying these money-saving principles, students can better manage their finances and “screw college debt.”