Getting a degree in the states doesn’t have to mean going into debt. Here’s how to avoid student loan debt in USA.
Looking to go to school in the U.S. but afraid of the possibility of leaving with crippling debt? You aren’t alone. Many adults are looking to change or start their careers with a degree from colleges in the U.S. but wonder if it’s possible given the growing student loan debt crisis. You don’t have to be one of the statistics — it is possible to graduate debt-free or close to it! Here’s how to avoid student loan debt in USA.
Student Loan Debt Facts
- The total student loan debt in 2018 was a collective $1.5 trillion amongst 44.5 million graduates in the U.S.
- The most recent study from 2016 showed average student debt at end of his or her studies was $28,446.
- 62% of Americans over age 30 are still paying their student loans
- Average monthly student debt loan payment: $351
Class of 2018 Debt
Things aren’t looking much better for the country’s most recent graduating class. If you’re a member of the class of 2018, check here on how new students can avoid becoming part of the student loan debt crisis.
- The graduating college class can now expect to retire at age 72, compared to the current age of 62-65
- Most recent graduates will be age 36 by the time they can afford the 20% downpayment on a home
- Almost half (45%) of recent graduates have debt
- 6.8% is the current average interest rate on student loans
Debt by Degree
40% of debt accumulated by students is for students of graduate and professional programs, and here are the average debt by degree:
- MBA: $42,000
- Education: $50,879
- Science: $50,400
- Law: $140,616
- Medicine and Health Science: $161,772
Highest and Lowest Monthly Debt Repayment & Income Ratios
Monthly income-to-debt ratio percents for any graduate is between 6-15%. This means that young professionals are paying between 6-15% of their income towards debt repayment. Some careers have higher earnings than others, and some degrees have higher prices than others. It is vital when trying to avoid student loan debt to look at these important statistics and to choose a degree program with an excellent return on investment.
- Optometry (14.9%)
- Veterinary (12.6%)
- Physician Assistant (11.6%)
- Dentistry (11.5%)
- Pharmacy (10.9%)
- Computer Science (6.4%)
- MBA (6.8%)
- Finance (7%)
- Nursing (7.1%)
- Accounting (7.2%)
Student Debt by Age
- Age 24 and younger: $125.4 billion among 8.5 million borrowers
- Age 25 to 34: $494.8 billion among 15.2 million borrowers
- Age 35 to 49: $540.3 billion among 14 million borrowers
- Age 50 to 61: $219.4 billion among 5.8 million borrowers
- Age 62 and older: $65.2 billion among 1.9 million borrowers
Student Debt by School Type
- Public: $617.6 billion among 24.9 million borrowers
- Private: $478.5 billion among 13.5 million borrowers
- Foreign: $15.5 billion among 0.1 million borrowers
How to Avoid Student Loan Debt
So now that you’ve got the intimidating facts and can guess how student loan debt can become an obstacle to a better life, we’re here to show you how not to become one of those debt statistics!
Working and Saving
Working hard before college and saving up your money can have huge benefits for your potential debt. When you come into college with some tuition already saved, that is that much fewer loans you will need to take out, and therefore less money paid in interest.
During college, you may also want to look into working part time to be able to pay some of your living expenses. Some great part time and flexible jobs for students include working at a cafe or clothing store, tutoring, writing, or babysitting.
You may also want to take a semester or summer off to work full time in order to save and take out less loans. It will be worth your while to take more time to get your degree while working in order to take out less loans that will accumulate interest. Check out these ideas for summer jobs for college students.
Debt Saving Tips for College Students
1. Keep Track of Your Expenses
Make a monthly budget and stick to it! You may be surprised by how easy it is to spend money that you may not have on school vacations, clothing, tech gadgets, and eating out. Finding your best way to keep track of what you’re spending will save you from accumulating too much credit card debt.
2. Be Wary of Credit Cards
As a student, you will likely get flooded with offers of new credit card sign-ups. It might be tempting to sign up for the latest credit card, or whatever card is used for your favorite stores. Think twice. Do your homework when it comes to cards and make a smart choice about the one you do end up signing up for. Use it sparingly and always pay it off in full each month to avoid late fees and interest.
3. Cook at Home
Ordering in is such a treat, and it should be treated as such! So is going out to eat. Save these for special occasions or for study incentives. Eating out adds up, even just when grabbing a coffee or snack on the go or while studying at a cafe. Instead, try to eat in, prepare your own snacks, and make coffee at home.
4. Get Free Books
There are so many ways to not have to pay full price (or any price) for textbooks. Try renting your books, swapping with classmates, or finding old versions online. For more tips on how to score free books, check out this blog post.
Avoid Debt by Lowering Tuition
1. Tuition-Free University
Did you know you can get a degree from a completely tuition-free college? University of the People offers associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, tuition-free! Now there’s a foolproof way to get a degree without the debt. Programs offered include Business Administration, Education, Computer Science and Health Science. Want more tuition-free options? Check out our five ways to get a tuition-free degree.
2. Getting College Credit Before College
Taking AP or IB classes in high school means earning college credit for free in public school classes. Take as many as you can in areas you excel in, in order to save in tuition costs. Many high schools in the U.S. also have dual enrollment programs where you can take college classes in your senior or junior year of high school at a local community college. Students can receive up to two entire years of free college during their last two years of secondary school, while concurrently earning a high school diploma. To check local requirements, ask your school district what opportunities they have for dual college enrollment.
3. State Schools and Community Colleges
With average yearly tuition prices at $3,347 per year, community colleges are a fantastic option for students trying to graduate debt-free. Many students attend the first several years at a community college and transfer to a state university to save on tuition prices. When trying to save on tuition, you will always get a better deal from an in-state school, rather than private or out-of-state. More on how to get a degree on a budget here.
4. Grants, Scholarships and Federal Loans
If you’re trying to avoid student loan debt, you will need to spend time applying for scholarships and grants. There are several scholarship and grant databases online and many have filters to find programs that are relevant to your history and interests. Every U.S. citizen or eligible student studying in the U.S. should apply for the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Make sure to apply early as amounts are given out per application and federal aid can run out.
Avoiding College Debt After You Graduate
If you’re about to graduate, or already have student loans, there are plenty of options for decreasing your debt as much as possible.
1. Take on a Paid Internship:
Don’t work for free. There are plenty of paid internships available, or entry-level jobs in your field.
2. Get a Job that Pays for College:
Many companies will help you pay for college. Here’s five ways to find jobs that will pay for your college.
3. Choose the Right Repayment Plan:
Check the Federal Aid website for ways to repay your student loans. There are several payment plans, including Pay As You Earn, and Income-Sensitive Repayment plan so it’s important to choose the best plan for you.
4. Look into Forgiveness Plans:
If you have federal student loans, look into some of these loan forgiveness programs offered by the federal government.
It is possible to avoid student loan debt when studying in the USA, whether it’s by working and saving before college, spending less during college, and making smart repayment choices after college. You can graduate debt-free!