Unless you're an heir of some kind, or have $50,000 lying around for a quality college education, I hate to break it to you but, chances are you're going to need to take out a student loan.
Not only have universities become extremely expensive, you also have other expenses to worry about like housing, meal plans, textbooks (these will cost you an arm and a leg) and a plethora of other things to worry about. These days it feels like taking out the loan is just inevitable.
I'm currently paying off my student loans and I can tell you, it's not fun.
I was talking to my co-worker, who's about 40 years older than me, when I started to freak out. She was still complaining about her loans saying that she was $11,000 in debt from them and this is decades after she's graduated. I lost it.
She told me her biggest mistake was that she waited until she got her dream job and started making a lot of money to pay off her loans, rather than starting off smaller, earlier.
Her words absolutely shook me and I decided I couldn't let myself end up in that position. Don't let the loans control you, you control the loans.
Here are five tips to keep in mind, and calm you, about student loans:
1. Student loans don't compromise your time.
Some of the best advice a friend gave me in college was this, "It makes more sense to take out a loan, and have the time to focus on studying and getting good grades, than to try and balance multiple jobs and school at once."
I think this makes a lot of sense because, if you have a full-time job and you go to school it's more difficult to focus on either one completely. You can always money back, but once time is gone, it's gone forever.
Of course, you'll have to pay the loans off eventually, but if you focus on your classes now and get the grades to show it, you can use those grades to qualify for scholarships and you won't need as many loans.
2. You can always pay as you go, don't wait until you graduate to start making payments.
People who don't take this seriously find themselves having increased interests to pay back. While you're still in school, and already have loans, you can gradually make payments.
Anytime you get a raise at work, or some unexpected birthday money, put it towards your loans. You'll see gradual decreases and it'll only make you feel like skipping your daily dose of Starbucks is making a difference.
3. Know the rules of your loan repayment plans.
Today, a lot of loans have a set amount of money you need to pay back every month. It's still a good idea to do some research and ask if you can adjust your loans in the future.
You can see if you can make less of a payment a month, then you can pay however much you want based on how much you're making at the time. This can relieve some stress from the process.
4. Don't take out more money than you have to, only take out the loans you need.
Some loan packages offer more money than you actually need, and you might think, "Yasss, a few extra $500 for those incredibly expensive shoes I don't need, come to mama!" Don't take it. I repeat: Do not take the money.
Those $500 shoes are only going to double when you can't afford to pay them off in the future and the interest piles up. If you don't need the money, it's not worth taking.
5. Think positive.
As simple as this sounds, student loans can really stress people out. They have a way of making you feel like you'll be in debt until you die. A negative attitude and complaints aren't going to make the loan payments stop, so take control and try to keep a positive attitude.
These tips have been advised to me from professionals and older colleagues that are still paying off their loans as well. These tips have helped keep me motivated to look for the finish line and if you follow them you might too.