High School Series Part 5 – Strategies to Minimize Student Loan Borrowing
January 2, 2014

Once you’ve made your college choice – see yesterday’s blog for our thoughts on that – it’s time to think about paying your out of pocket portion that grants and scholarships won’t cover. Of course if you’ve been offered a full ride, student loans won’t be an issue. But unless you’re in that rare circumstance, you may have some student loans in your future. Any way that you can minimize college debt is helpful to your long-term financial health, so consider these strategies to borrow less.

Get to Work Now

Senior year is the time when you want to relish your skip days, prepare for your final prom and soak up time with your high school friends. But time devoted to socializing may be better spent at a part-time job. And if you already have a job, stockpiling your paychecks between now and the end of the school year is a wise way to avoid debt from the get-go. It’s worth the sacrifice to avoid all the interest later.

Work During the School Year

You may think you won’t have time to work but particularly in your first couple of years of college, you’ll have ample time to accommodate a part-time gig. Studies show that those that work while in university actually have better grades than those who don’t work. And as long as you manage your time wisely, you won’t have any problems holding down a job to pay for costs your financial aid doesn’t cover.

Don’t Slack Over Summer

Summer is a great time to work on your tan, but in reality it’s a better time to just work. You can devote yourself to full time work over the summers and rake in several thousand dollars to make a huge dent in your tuition and fees. While it may be tempting to hang out before Fall semester starts up again, sticking to a regimen of hard work will be the best for you in the long run.

Move Off Campus

The cost of room and board is much greater than splitting an off-campus apartment with a couple of friends and living on Ramen and toast. College dormitories are priced as if they were prime real estate when often what they are is bare bones, hard floored and subject to constant noise and interruption. An off-campus pad sounds cooler, too!

College kids are increasingly living with their parents

More young adults than ever are living back at home.
Image source: MyBudget360.com

Stay Home with the Folks

If you opt for a school near home, staying in your childhood bedroom (or moving down to the basement) can save you major bucks and is cheaper than even an off-campus apartment. And if you need someone to proof read a term paper, wash your t-shirts or cook you a good meal, Chez Mom’n’Pop is a great place for all of these. They’ll probably be glad to hang onto you for a couple of more years rather than facing an empty nest just yet.

Buy Everything Possible Used

From cars to clothes to text books, you can get almost everything you need for school on the cheap if you don’t insist on having things new. Macklemore says thrift stores are cool and he can’t be wrong, right? Save your money now to avoid student loans and once you’re out of school and have a real job, then you can splurge on new stuff. Used textbooks don’t have the info drained out and Goodwill has racks of comfy clothes. And if anyone busts you out about it, play the ironic hipster card…

If you do have to borrow for college, no matter how much or how little, sign up for a free student loan management account with Tuition.io so you can track your debt and always know how much you’ve borrowed so you don’t get in too deep. Be sure to read our blog for the other parts in this high school series, news, and tips on coping with student loans.

Read all of our blog series for High School students:

High School Series Part 1 – Understanding College Costs

High School Series Part 2 – Applying for Financial Aid and Scholarships

High School Series Part 3 – Evaluating Financial Aid Packages

High School Series Part 4 – Making Your College Choice

High School Series Part 5 – Strategies to Minimize Borrowing

High School Series Part 6 – Understanding Debt: Federal vs Private Student Loans