Budgeting as a college student is about more than just how to pay your student apartment’s rent.
You have to pay for everything and, unfortunately, most of us will face the harsh reality that is a federal student loan. But you don’t have to be its slave forever. Know that there is a way out if you strategize and follow through with effective financial planning.
Make that Bread
Save that Bread
You probably don’t need full-priced designer clothes and you definitely shouldn’t eat fast food every day. Figure out how to budget in a way that meets your needs and allows you your treats without becoming unnecessary. Do you really need a separate gym membership or does your apartment complex provide one for free? Where can you go in your town that offers student discounts? Save your gas and take the bus. For goodness sakes, buy a blender and make your own smoothie!
Much of the time, interest will not begin to accrue until after you graduate. Start paying it off before then to maximize your savings!
Autopay Saves the Day
Besides ensuring you don’t miss a payment and hurt your credit, many loan services will even discount your rate by 0.25% when you sign up for automatic payments. Small savings really add up over time, especially if you’re paying over the course of several years.
Pay as Much as You Can – as Soon as You Can
This is a great plan in theory. Considering interest rates, the more you pay, the less you’ll pay. Of course, this isn’t immediately practical for every struggling college student who has to be able to afford everything else in life: food, tuition, books, Natty Light, RENT, you know. Nevertheless, when things start to stabilize financially, you’ll want to keep this strategy in mind.
Refinancing is an Option
Refinancing is not for everyone, especially those dependent upon federal loan forgiveness or income-driven repayment plans only offered at the federal loan level. However, if your credit is significantly better than when you first took out the loans, refinancing with a private lender could be a much better alternative in terms of securing lower interest rates.
Find a Job That Will Help
Many careers offer student loan assistance or outright forgiveness depending upon the field. Federal government workers, public servants, and volunteer organization workers, among others, can qualify for these programs. Many jobs offer loan assistance as part of their benefits package, so check with your employers to see if they can help.
When all else fails, talk to your school’s financial advisor to figure out what plan works best for you.