Many college students are skeptical about the value of their education. With constant talk about rising tuition costs and an unstable job market, you can’t blame them.
The good news is the facts show a college education is still a good investment. You just need to be smart about financing it.
The Stats: College Graduates vs. High School Graduates*
- The unemployment rate is 3.8% for college grads vs. 12.2% for high school grads
- 5.8% of college grads live at or below the poverty line, compared to 21.8% of high school grads
- College grads typically make 56% more, and that wage gap continues to grow
Financing the Dream
So how do you pay for college on top of all the other bills? You have a lot of options, so you just need to know what they are and have a strategy to pay off your loans.
Besides finding a school that meets your academic and social needs, you should also factor in price. Consider spending your first year or two at a community college. You can take your core classes and figure out what you’re interested in studying.
You should also keep in mind that you’re not going to be making a huge salary right after school. You need to have a few years of experience under your belt before you can expect higher salaries.
Everyone should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), even if they don’t think they’ll qualify for anything. There are many options available, and it may surprise you.
There are thousands of scholarships and grants available with a wide range of criteria. These are often free to apply to; you may need to write an essay, but a small time investment could be worth it.
Ask your school for good resources, or use an online database.
Remember that government-backed loans typically offer benefits you won’t get with other loans, such as the ability to reduce or stop payments for a certain amount of time. That said, you may still need to take out additional financing.
Pay close attention to interest rates and repayment terms for any loans you take out.
Some occupations, like teaching and government positions, open up student loan debt forgiveness options after working in the field for a certain number of years (or once other criteria has been met). Research options in your field to make sure you’re not missing out.
Benefits for dependents of veterans are also available.
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