In the United States alone, student loan debt has reached an all-time high of $1.7 trillion, with an average amount of $35,000 owed per scholar (CNBC.com). With these values increasing every year, it can become stressful as families consider the future of their children’s education, especially as society emerges from the recent COVID-19 global shutdown. While President Biden has extended student loan debt payments until August 31st of this year through an executive order (forbes.com), this grace won’t last forever.
~Have No Fear, Invstr is Here!~
We have compiled a small list of considerations to help soar above your economic upset and put you on top of the game to enjoy a memorable college experience. While there is no set formula to completely avoid incurring student loan debt, adding some strategy to covering these costs can alleviate financial pressure.
Invest with Invstr
Investing early is one of the best ways to fund college tuition costs. Though it is not easy to give up Christmas, birthday, or allowance money, these are all great methods to build long-term wealth. Trust us, in the end it will be worth it to refrain from buying the latest gizmos and gadgets! With this money, you can take charge of your future with the upcoming launch of Invstr Jr, a program allowing kids under 18 to invest in stocks and crypto. Sign up here for early access!
With the added support from Invstr’s Academy resources, you can become educated and more equipped to put your money in the market with more confidence. Take on financial literacy and put yourself in the best position you can to graduate in a better position than 46 million Americans who harbor student loan debt (studentloanhero.com). Try Fantasy Finance to test your knowledge and invest $1,000,000 of theoretical, risk-free money before you contribute your own.
Seek Super Scholarships (and Grants!)
After you’ve started to make your money work for you, you can focus on applying for programs that help front the financial freight of college. Many institutions give academic aid for incoming students with good grades out of high school; these scholarships are usually received in a tiered system, with higher GPA’s receiving greater amounts of tuition reduction. In most cases this money is not enough to cover even half of one’s schooling, so external funding may be necessary. When seeking out these scholarships, smaller scholarships are just as important as the larger ones (if not more important). Awards of $25, $100, or $500 add up, and oftentimes they are not hard to procure. They can be found online or through local organizations and can pay off very well. If you have a particular interest or skill set, there may be money waiting for you!
On the other hand, grants work a little differently than scholarships do. They are an award of money contingent upon financial need, rather than merit-based standards. If you are a dependent and a student, make sure you meet all the criteria via FAFSA requirements to be eligible for a Pell Grant (government-awarded money) of up to $6,895. The fortunate fact about scholarships and grants is that the money is gifted, rather than loaned. This helps because you can offset some of the would-be student loans with free money given to you!
Work Smarter, Not Harder
You can start by taking community college classes (usnews.com) in high school to knock some credits out of the way. This can drastically cut down on costs, and most colleges are able to receive these transfer credits especially if they are GE (General Education) courses. In the same way, taking AP or equivalent certification allows you to test out of college required-classes to avoid the financial burden of these basic studies.
Don’t be afraid to consider smaller, less expensive colleges in your search! In fact, according to Noodle.com, “over 600 business leaders note that knowledge and skills are more critical than the college or university name associated with a prospective employee’s undergraduate degree.” A lower price tag does not necessarily mean a lower quality of education. You can also start with pursuing an associates degree at a junior college before transitioning to a larger institution, depending on your desired career path.
Additionally, working a part-time job can provide extra income that can be added straight into your Invstr account to start growing. Mowing your neighbors’ lawn, house sitting, or working at a fast food chain can all help contribute to avoiding the trap of student loan debt. Get creative, and know that these are all viable options, but not all of them may apply directly to each individual situation.
This guide is meant to help you navigate the financial waters of college, and help you find the best path forward.
Invstr’s our name, financial literacy’s our game! Download the app to start invst-ing smarter today.
I am not a financial advisor and my comments should never be taken as financial advice. Investments come with risk, so always do your research and analysis beforehand.