I recently graduated college after four and a half years. College is fun, exciting, and full of new experiences. The problem lies in that most college students’ finances are the least of their worries. There are a couple key points college students should look at to make their college education a great financial decision rather than one that leaves them struggling to pay the bills after graduating.
Student Loans Here is a big one. College students who are not supported by family and friends often turn to loans. Many of my peers have massive loans and mentioned that they were clueless when they signed up for them. One friend let her mother handle her loans and racked up over $90,000 over four years for a nursing degree and she was working every year. Before starting college take a moment to understand the entirety of what a student loan entails. How much do you actually need, what is the interest rate, how much will you be paying monthly once you graduate, and understanding forbearance and deferment. I believe the thought process for somewhat aware students is that they will just take the greater amount and whatever they don’t use they will just put it back toward the loan, however, that money always seem to find a better home. Understand student loans, do not take all they offer unless you really need it and look at all your options before selecting which student loans to take.
Work – My dad pounded into my head from my freshmen year of high school that I would be paying for college by myself and that loans were the devil. So from the moment I turned sixteen I started working while doing well in school. The summer between high school and college I was working seventy to eighty hour work weeks and continued working twenty to thirty hours a week throughout my entire education. Now, working far more than the average student didn’t mean I was without loans, but they were far less than my peers. Working and more often than just a few hours during college keeps you engaged, looks great on the resume and helps you stay focused on the present and the future. I was able to put myself in a very comfortable situation after graduating. There is a comfort zone though. Do not think that you are going to do one better and start working fifty hours a week while being a full time student. You will miss out on some great experiences and some great networking opportunities.
Nothing is Guaranteed – I know several very intelligent recent graduates that have been looking for a job without any luck for well over a year now. These are people who took out giant loans and bought merchandise they couldn’t afford at the time because they would soon be swimming in cash. Well they aren’t swimming in cash, but debt and some of them are doing it while living in their parent’s basement. Try to plan based on what you have or even less than what you have and not on what you think you will one day have.
This guest post is contributed by Cody at TheMillionDollarMission, he writes on the topics of Personal Finance, Success and Career Development.