How to pay off those painful student loans

Paying Off Student Loans

by Harrine Freeman


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How Does Your Student Loan Debt Stack Up?

A recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that 50% of recent college graduates have student loans, with an average student loan debt of $10,000. The average cost of college increases at twice the rate of inflation. With the rising costs of college, it is difficult for aspiring college students to get enough scholarships and grants to pay for college and basic necessities. More and more, college students are forced to use credit cards to pay for basic essentials such as books and school supplies. According to the United Marketing Service (UCMS), the average number of credit cards per student is 2.8.

Here are 7 ways to help with paying off student loan debt:

  1. Develop a plan. Develop a plan to pay off your student loan debt before you graduate.
  2. Save your money. Each summer throughout your college education, get a job or internship. Save half the money in a high interest savings account such as emigrantdirect.com. After a few months, consult a financial advisor to earn the highest possible return on your money. After college, you can use the money saved during all four years to pay down your college debt.
  3. Use caution with consolidation. Consolidating student loans combines your loans into one payment, but this may or may not provide you with a lower interest rate. Do extensive research before consolidating your student loans. In addition, you may not be eligible for various student loan forgiveness programs if you consolidate your student loans.
  4. Exchange work to reduce debt. Perform volunteer work or work for the following in exchange for reducing student loan debt: teaching in certain locations with low-income students or areas with shortage of teachers, providing legal and medical services in low-income areas or working for AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps. For more information, visit finaid.org.
  5. Get a work-study job. To help pay for the costs of college, get a work-study job on campus to help defray the cost of college. Go to your campus employee office to ask about their work-study program. Work study jobs pay at least the minimum wage for that state.
  6. Find out if you can benefit from student loan debt help.

  7. Apply for a lot of scholarships. In recent years, money has been reduced from the budget for college scholarships so it is harder to get a scholarship to go to college. You can increase your chances of getting a scholarship by completing as many scholarship applications as you can. If you complete at least 50, you should receive at least five scholarships. Also, go to your campus financial aid office and ask about financial aid programs that the school provides to students. Become friendly with the financial aid office employees who will alert you to financial aid programs when they become available. You can also search the Internet for scholarships. Some scholarship websites are scholarships.com, finaid.org, college-scholarships.com or scholarshiphelp.org.
  8. Protect your credit. Try to avoid making late payments on your student loans. If you're late, it will be reported on your credit report and can remain for up to seven years. If you are having financial hardship, call the student loan company and inform them of your situation. Ask for a hardship or loan deferment to ensure your credit is not damaged until you are able to start making payments again.

Harrine Freeman is the CEO of H.E. Freeman Enterprises. Visit HEFreemanEnterprises.com and HEFreemanEnterprises.blogspot.com. Harrine Freeman is also a Speaker, Columnist, and Author of How to Get Out of Debt: Get an "A" Credit Rating for Free.

Take the Next Step:

  • If heading off to college soon, be sure to apply for as many scholarships as you can, including these weird scholarships.
  • While in college, save your summer earnings in a high interest savings account as suggested above and look into getting a work-study job on campus. Compare current interest rates and open an account today.
  • Graduating soon? Visit FinAid.org to see if this is an debt reduction avenue that you should pursue.

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