May has students of all ages moving on to their next chapter. No matter who in your family is earning their promotion from eighth grade, their high school diploma, or their college degree, it is a great time to get started or check in on your financial plan for college.
By doing so, you can step out above many others who, in a COUNTRY Financial Security Index® survey, said they did not have the resources needed to understand student debt. In fact, over a third of Americans with student debt said no one taught them how to manage their debt. The survey also found that of those who started but did not complete a post-secondary program, 59 percent said the cost of education factored into their inability to finish their education. Over half (53 percent) said that student loans were a factor in their decision not to finish school. It’s certainly not uncommon for people to have a few thousand dollars of student debt after graduation. The same COUNTRY Financial Security Index survey found Americans carry an average of more than $36,000 of student loan debt.
So, let’s be proactive as we also celebrate that walk across the stage! Here are six simple steps to control education costs and manage student loans:
- Set long-term financial goals that incorporate saving and debt management
- Consider community colleges with transfer credits and advance placement tests to
shorten the path to a degree
- Comparison shop both private and public schools and ask about scholarship opportunities
- Take a realistic look at college non-tuition expenses including fees, housing and transportation
- Create a budget for post-college life
- Understand your options for loan restructuring and consolidation
Because tuition and housing costs continue to climb, college may feel out of reach for many high school students and soon-to-be college students. However, working farther in advance, you will find there are ways to attend college without completely breaking the bank.
Bonus Simple Step: Graduation gifts are a great source to get started on your financial future. Use dollars received from family and friends to add to your emergency fund and/or attack any debt you have accumulated.