That is a shocking number, and indicative of the state of our financial future. Students are becoming saddled with increasing amounts of debt as they graduate and enter into an economy that is cutting jobs.
Not exactly a pleasant scenario.
How can you take a stand?
As a student, or a recent graduate, what steps can you take to minimize the burden of student loans?
- Only take out the exact amount of student loans you need to cover your academic expenses. Many students receive loan refunds each semester that are above and beyond their actual needs. If you receive a loan refund that you do not need, you can return it to your financial aid office, or make a payment directly back to your lender.
- Pursue grants and scholarships. The more awards you receive that do not have to be repaid, the less reliant on students loans you will need to be. You can start with the FAFSA, and check out places such as Fastweb.com, or your local high school guidance office for local scholarship opportunities.
- Work during college. The number of students who hold part-time jobs while attending school is on the rise. This is an excellent way to help defray some of the costs of education and avoid student loans. This also has the added benefit of giving you work experience, and references to include on your résumé.
- Become an Entrepreneur. The leading source of wealth in the United States is entrepreneurs who have started their own small business. As a college student, or a recent graduate, there is no better time than the present to start a business. Businesses started in the recession have the benefit of low costs, and low barriers of entry. Keep your overhead costs minimal, and your profit margins high. This will allow you to pay off your student loan debt as soon as possible, while focusing on growing your business into a sustainable income.
These are just a few ways that you can take a stand again the rising student loan debt levels.
What have you done to avoid taking out student loans? Please share in the comments below.
Photo used under Flickr Creative Commons Agreement: SMBCollege