Student debt is a major, major problem today. There are 44.7 million Americans that have student loan debt. The average amount that people have in student loans is $32,731 with an average monthly payment of $393. Here is a breakdown of the outstanding loan balances by age groups:
- 8.2 million people under the age of 24 owe a combined total of $121.2 billion
- 15 million people from age 25 to 34 owe a combined total of $501.5 billion
- 14.1 million people from age 35 to 49 owe a combined total of $575.5 billion
- 6 million people from age 50 to 61 owe $241.2 billion
- 2.1 million people over age 62 owe a combined total of $75.9 billion
These numbers are absolutely alarming to me. There are 2.1 million people who are at retirement age or approaching retirement age with outstanding student loan balances! It is frustrating to me that graduating college with massive amounts of debt has basically become the norm for America. It has come to be expected to graduate college with student loans, to the point that I think a lot of people believe that it is impossible to go to college without taking out a loan. Let me tell you something: the idea that paying for college is impossible without taking out student loans is a lie. It is completely false. How do I know? Because I did it, my sisters are doing it, and my husband did it. I know from experience that it is possible!
Stop Contributing to the Problem
Stop using student loans to pay for college. “Oh, but college is so expensive and it is only getting more expensive each year!” Yep, so we need to start thinking about how we are going to pay for our degrees well before graduating high school and going to college. Get a part time job while in high school and don’t spend the money that is earned. That’s the key right there: don’t spend the money. Or, at the very least, don’t spend all of it. Don’t buy high-dollar shoes or clothes or watches or cars. In order to save money for college, get a job early in high school and be smart with spending and saving that money.
Apply like crazy for scholarships and grants. This is free money that can be used for college. Apply, apply, apply. Fill out the FAFSA and see what grants are available. See what kind of scholarships are offered locally. Most college websites have a page specifically for scholarships offered by that college, see what is available based on GPA, ACT score, major, anything! It’s surprising what is out there.
Get at least one part time job while going to college. College isn’t like high school. There isn’t a strict 8:00-4:00 class schedule every day. Most students only have about 12 or 15 hours’ worth of class to attend during the week. That leaves a lot of time outside of class to pick up a part time job and still have time to study.
Don’t spend a ton of money on things outside of tuition, housing, and meals while you’re going to college. Live on a budget. Don’t go out to eat every night or go shopping at the mall every weekend. Spend wisely and, again, save as much as possible.
Figure out what to study before going to college. Still don’t know what to study after graduating high school? That’s fine, either take general education courses at a community college for cheap (well, cheap compared to universities) or get a job and work while figuring out what to study. Don’t go to a university without a plan and take random classes that cost an arm and a leg while trying to decide what to study.
Do not take loans to cover living expenses. Get a job to cover living expenses. Do not treat student loans as income while going to college. Loans are not income, income is income and income is a result of having a job.
Pay Down and Eliminate the Debt
People who have student loans need to get them paid off. It’s as simple as that. People who are going to graduate soon or who have recently graduated need to get their loans paid off ASAP. Get ‘em gone! Go get a job, create a budget, live by that budget, and pay for the loans. People who have had the loans for a long time need to do the same. Create a budget and pay for the loans. Kick those puppies to the curb and keep more money in your pocket!
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All statistics are from a Forbes article (see reference below). This is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as personal financial advice. I have not taken into consideration anyone specific situation. This is simply based on my opinions and how I personally handle my budget and finances. If you would like one-on-one personal budgeting advice, please click the Budget Coaching button below or contact me to set up a free consultation call. Also, if you haven’t already, sign up for my monthly newsletter! I will be sending out exclusive content each month and you will get a free budget guide as a thank you for signing up!
Friedman, Z. (2020, December 15). Student Loan Debt Statistics In 2020: A Record $1.6 Trillion. Retrieved January 6, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2020/02/03/student-loan-debt-statistics/?sh=78fabbb8281f
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