Student loans are probably the worst and most infuriating thing about the educational system today. In the United States, millions of college students are graduating with debt higher than the frosty tip of Mount Everest. Today, college tuition and rent is at an all-time high, and not to mention wages that haven’t increased in decades. To pay off their student loans college graduates will have to sacrifice the financial luxury of past generations.
This harsh reality has put a lot of emotional and financial strain on them. Many find it difficult to find good-paying jobs in their field after graduating; forcing them to take irrelevant jobs to pay off their loans. This increasing number of college graduates drowning in debt will eventually have a damaging effect on the economy.
Consumer spending is one of the biggest drivers of the American economy. Consumers can’t spend their money when they don’t have any money to spend. With all of this financial strain, college graduates will have no choice but to cut their spending; subsequently causing the economy to slow down.
We must address these issues now so that future economic problems can be avoided. Paying off student loan debt can seem like an insurmountable challenge, but just like anything else; it can be done with a little hard work, and commitment.
Why Student Loans Are A Bad Investment
Student loans are sponsored by the government and are meant to provide funds to college students for tuition and housing costs. The government uses your future earnings potential as insurance for the repayment of the debt. The problem with this is that college does not guarantee you a job; it only helps you qualify for some. Graduating without a job lined up does not exempt you from paying back your student loans.
But, let’s say that you do end up landing a job that you really enjoy, the chances of you staying at that company forever are slim. Statistics show that the days of life long careers at one company are over; people now are changing jobs faster than ever before. Likewise, losing your job will not halt your loan payments; the government expects you to pay up, whether you’re employed or not.
There is also the choices of major and the type of university that should be considered. It’s complicated to decipher exactly how different colleges and choice of major will affect a graduate’s earnings. Some colleges may have a better name than others but with rising tuition, graduates from those schools will pay more to attend there. Similarly, some majors may be more lucrative than others but different factors such as; where the student attended college, what their grades were, and their networking skills all come into play.
The best thing you can do is to attend a university that is right for you financially. You should also pick a major that will help you earn more money over your lifetime. If you are passionate about a major that is not lucrative, then consider double majoring.
How To Pay Off Student Loans? Don’t Take Loans In The First Place
The easiest and most obvious way to avoid student loan debt is to not take on any loans in the first place. This might seem like a no-brainer, but for some, taking loans might be unavoidable. People from low-income backgrounds may see it as too difficult to pay for school as they go. Therefore, they take out student loans and pay them back with interest. It’s important to note that these loans will stay with them for a lifetime. There is no way to get rid of student loans: you can’t even file for bankruptcy on them like with other debt.
Thus, one of the best ways to avoid taking out student loans is to enroll at a local community college. This will allow the first two years of your college education to be affordable enough for you to pay cash. Once you’ve done that pick a state school that is close enough to commute with your car. The tuition will not be cheap, but it will be better than getting into debt for a room and board.
You’ll need to work full time as well, depending on how many expenses you have. Unfortunately, your college experience will likely be reduced to working nights either as a waiter or a bartender. Don’t let that stop you though, it’s good preparation for the real world: plus once you graduate you’ll be debt-free.
Many people consider college to be the best years of their life. I do not consider it to be this way. I see it as four years of preparation to enjoy the best years of the rest of your life. Remember, you are going to college so that you can live a better life after graduation, not before.
Pay Off Student Loans By Reducing Expenses
Student loans by themselves can feel like the biggest expense you pay every month. This can make it difficult to do the things you want to do after you graduate. Especially if your expectations are high, but that’s OK because the whole point of going to college is to chase your dreams. It may feel like your student loans are getting in the way, but realistically you can’t start your life without paying them off first. So then what other options do you have? Well,…you can budget your debt away!
I’d like to take a moment and reference financial guru Dave Ramsey. Dave Ramsey is a self-made millionaire who hosts a popular radio show in which he takes calls from people across America in need of financial advice. One of the most popular topics he receives is about how to deal with student loan debt.
Dave Ramsey hates the idea of getting into debt for an education. He also understands how debt can be the biggest obstacle for building wealth, which it is. Mr. Ramsey has a famous diet for dealing with the debt burden and its called living off “rice and beans“. Rice and beans are a metaphor that implies living off the bare minimum. So basically if you graduate with loans, forget savings, forget investing, and forget buying that new car. All of your extra money should be used to pay down the debt keeping you from being financially independent.
Pay Attention To Post Graduate Earnings
If you get $30,000 in debt to make $40,000 a year, then you should have no problem paying off your student loans, especially if you follow Ramsey’s method. That amount of debt and income is around the average for college graduates today. This is something that makes financial sense and is why taking out loans to pay for school can sometimes be helpful. Yet, the reality is that for many, the cost of attending school will exceed their future earnings.
This is especially true when you look at graduate degree earnings. Students that take on graduate debt end up paying more interest for only a slight boost in income. So if you are interested in attending graduate school, I’d strongly recommend doing thorough research on the program; of how much it will cost you, and how much you’ll earn after you graduate.
For example, don’t take on $300,000 in student loans to become a lawyer from a non-competitive law school. The reason is that lawyers don’t earn as much as you think they do, especially ones from less competitive schools. Moreover, a lawyer graduating from Harvard law has a much better chance to branch out of legal work and enter fields such as politics or business. This can justify taking on the debt for law school since the student has the potential to earn more money throughout their career.
Pick Up A Side Hustle
In the age of the internet, the current gig economy is becoming a phenomenal alternative for part-time side hustlers. A side hustle can be just what you need to pay off the rest of your student loans. If you have any kind of technical skills you can utilize those and start your own online business. You could start a clothing line, a YouTube channel, a freelance business, and so much more. I go into more detail about this in my other post, 5 Hobbies That Can Make You More Money.
The opportunities when it comes to the internet are endless. We live in a time where children are being paid millions of dollars to stream video games professionally. The world is in the palm of your hands, you have the opportunity to do anything you want. You will need to take the time to learn your craft and get good at it. You will also need to understand how social media and Google operate; it may be a good idea to learn some coding and web design as well.
Whatever it is you decide to do, you’ll be able to generate a decent income through side hustling. If you do this and simultaneously budget your living expenses, then paying off your student loans shouldn’t be a problem.
Paying off your student loans can seem a lot harder than it needs to be. Yes, there will be times when you don’t want to owe the government anymore. Of course, there will be days when you ask yourself if attending college was the right decision. But here’s the thing, whenever you take on a massive load of debt, paying it back is never fun. The good news is that getting into debt for education is considered “good debt”. This means that the debt you have is used to better yourself and help you generate more income.
The earnings potential of a college graduate is far more than anything a high school education can acquire. A college degree is certainly worth it if you make the most of the program you graduate from. You should be able to pay off your loans if you get a good job after college. But if you end up taking too much out then you can pay for, you must plan to pay it back accordingly. Paying back your student loans probably won’t be fun, but if you live within your means and work hard to grow your income; the burden of debt will be lifted and financial freedom will be right around the corner.