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20 Tips for Keeping your Student Loans Under Control

If you were to define “college student” the words financially savvy, thrifty, resourceful, prudent, patient and smart should be part of the definition. College students learn to defer gratification, to implement long-term plans and resist the temptation to spend for years later when their earning powers are obtained.

  1. Suspend charitable giving, donations and lending until after your graduate from college.

  2. Begin your studies and complete your first two years at a local community college.

  3. Transfer to a public college in the state in which you live.

  4. Try not to switch your major, as each time you do, you tend to lose some credits which may not work toward the new major.

  5. Take the number of credits you know you are able to pass and not have to repeat.

  6. If your college charges a flat rate for full-time take the maximum allowable and pass them all. This is a windfall for you but most schools have stopped this pricing practice.

  7. Spread your courses out throughout the year and use the summer semester.

  8. Never drop a course because you are going to receive a “D” grade. A “D” grade will count toward your degree. You will graduate with a 2.0 GPA or higher. Focus on completion, not a high GPA. There is an old joke in the profession that a “D” stands for Degree. Once you graduate no one will ever ask you what your GPA was. They will ask if you graduated.

  9. Work while you are in college to offset your expenses, but not more than 15 hours per week. If at all possible, work for the college you attend.

  10. When you are not sure about something, seek advice and don’t be shy. Everyone who has gone through college understands. Ask several people the same question and then evaluate the opinions you have received. Use critical thinking to make your decision.

  11. Be sure you understand basic math, including percentage calculations and compounding.

  12. Find work with an employer who has a tuition assistance program for their employees.

  13. When possible rent or buy your text books online rather than the college book store which always charges a premium.

  14. Live cheap and buy everything used when you can.

  15. Use public transportation and eliminate the expenses of an automobile.

  16. Always carry your college Student ID Card and ask for student discounts every time you spend money.

  17. At holidays and birthdays make gifts for family and friends rather than spending money.

  18. Attend campus and free community events where meals will be served.

  19. Apply for social services that you may be entitled to as a low income individual.

  20. Above all select colleges that are practical and affordable. If a college is accredited and half the price of a name brand university down the street, by all means enroll there for half the money. Get to work with your degree and then have your employer finance your next degree.

Steven M. Solar, Ed.D. is Student Development Advisor at Cumberland County College in Vineland, New Jersey

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