Bills need to be paid. Dinner needs to be made. Your kids need help with their homework. You have a job and other responsibilities, too. Your plate is full.
Stressing over how to pay back student loans for your education shouldn't have to be on your to-do list. While taking out a student loan to cover tuition might seem like a good idea now, traditional student loans can become a burden that stays around for years after graduation. Due to the interest attached to student loans, students often pay much more than their actual tuition. Nationally, students in the graduating class of 2016 have on average $37,172 in student loan debt! On top of that, according to reports shared by U.S. News, students typically take nearly 20 years to pay off their loans. The good news is student loans aren't the only option to pay for school. There are many ways you can pay for your college tuition your way, without taking on massive student loan debt that will haunt you for years.
Instead of federal student loans with heavy interest and long-term debt, as a student, consider one of these options to help you pay for your healthcare degree.
Employer tuition assistance/reimbursement: Tuition assistance or reimbursement are company-sponsored programs that cover tuition partially or fully. While there can be stipulations, like having to achieve a minimum grade point or stay with the company for a set amount of time, these programs can provide a lot of help. Be sure to ask human resources upon employment. You might be able to get your employer to pay for school.
Scholarships: Scholarships offer a great way to pay for school because you don't have to pay the money back. The key to getting a scholarship is to get creative when applying for them. Start by thinking about what makes you you. Think about community organizations you are a part of, identities you affiliate with, even your career field. Then pull up your favorite search engine and get to work. If you're an older adult student, remember to look for scholarships for non-traditional students as well. For students who are already taking classes, ask your college advisors for tips to lead you to scholarships that fit you and your career path.
Look for payment plans:
Some colleges have their own payment plans
that allow students to pay tuition on their terms easily. This means you won't have to pay unreasonable amounts of money each month. The best part is, with payment plans, students pay a set amount per month with no interest added to the bill. Some colleges even offer auto-pay, so you don't have to worry about sending in payments on time each month. Colleges with payment plans make tuition easy to pay for and give graduates one less thing to worry about when they start their new careers.
Use a tuition calculator: A helpful tuition calculator
tells you exactly what it will cost to get your credential or degree. You can plug in all the relevant information into the calculator to determine the full cost of a program then use that information to figure out a budget for yourself.
Tips for Saving Money for Your Tuition and Life Expenses as a Student
Even with a sound plan to pay for college, making a budget and a strategy to save money helps make achieving that plan easier. Try these quick tips to save money as a student and give your budget a break.
Save now. No effort is too small. Even if it's forgoing that daily coffee stop, or packing your lunch for work, every penny counts. Investing in yourself while making smart financial moves is a great way to prepare for your future.
Share your plan. Tell your family your financial goals and commitments, so you are all in it together. Sticking to goals and plans is easier when it's a team effort.
Get creative with entertainment. Now is the perfect time to pause your cable subscription and dust off that library card. While you're saving money and planning to pay for an education that brightens your future, think simple. A homemade dinner and a DVD can be just as fun as a night on the town when you're in the right company.
Avoid colleges that accept federal loans. This may seem counterintuitive, or even inconsequential, at first. But, the people who watch higher education have noted several studies
that show colleges that accept federal student aid programs also have higher tuition. Finding a college with lower tuition, as long as quality is not sacrificed, can be a savvy way to save money.
Ultimately, no matter how you decide to pay for your college tuition, know you are not alone. Plenty of people out there have done it before. With a good payment plan and some money smarts, you can take steps toward graduating with little to no student loans, and thrive in your new career in no time.