School Loans: Invest in Education

college savings

My husband and I partially invested in our education with student loans. We only took out loans for necessary items. Because of this, we have doubled our earning potential. Here are some things we did or wished we would have done:

Choosing a Focus and a School

First, choose a worthwhile job focus and reputable school. Otherwise, you may be thousands of dollars in debt without having a marketable job skill.

Choose a focus or major with a career in mind. Not all majors and careers are created equal. Some fields are too flooded or aren’t doing well in the current economy. Look at what jobs are needed now and in the future. Consider what areas you are interested in and decide which one will fulfill your financial and creative needs the most.

Choose a reputable and accredited institution. Some institutions give you a subpar education and charge more. For example, an applicant at my husband’s work had a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, but he couldn’t perform basic computer coding.

When looking at an institution, look at more than that institution’s website and literature. Research reviews on other websites and ask others you trust. Keep in mind that just because a college charges more than another, doesn’t make it better. A state university will teach you as much as an Ivy League university. Some colleges just have an inflated opinion of themselves.

Free Funding

Find free funding, such as scholarships and grants. First, you need to fill out your FAFSA. This will determine if you qualify for grants, need-based scholarships, and subsidized loans. You’ll know automatically if you qualify for the income-based Pell grant. If you have any emotional, physical, or intellectual special needs, you may qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation and other resources. Certain ethnicities also qualify for additional grants.

Schools, companies, and other organizations offer scholarships for almost everyone. There are academic, need-based, sports, community-service, talent, ethnicity-based and other scholarships. So google scholarships based on your strengths.

Consider schools that offer you scholarships first. Sometimes, a junior college will offer a scholarship, but not a university. You can start at a junior college before transferring to a university. Remember to renew your scholarships each year too!

Part-Time Job

Part-time work pays for some college expenses and teaches you job skills. I learned how to manage my time, follow directions, and solve problems because I held a small job and attended school at the same time. I also had a work history when I finished my degree.

Remember to maintain a work and school balance. Most of the time, school comes before a part-time job because school trains you for a lifelong career.

Family

I put family loosely as a source of funding. Often, it’s better to pay for your own education because you will value it more. It will be your financial success. If you are in a real bind, ask family members who can afford to help you.

Finally—School Loans

As I mentioned earlier, you need to fill out FAFSA for school loans. This will show if you qualify for government subsidized loans. You can take out more in unsubsidized loans. This just means that the interest rate will be slightly higher than subsidized loans. You need to apply for the loan before or at the beginning of the semester. If you don’t use all the loan money, you can place it in savings until you do need it. You can earn interest on the savings and you have a cushion for the unexpected. Whatever loan money is still in savings when you finish school, you can immediately pay back.

School loans can go to pay for whatever you need. Beware of the temptation to buy what you want. Many college students don’t need cars, just their legs, a bike, a scooter, carpool, or a bus pass. Students anticipate that they will be doctors and dentists who make so much that they can have a high standard of living before they earn the money. It’s unwise to saddle yourself with extra debt.

You won’t be able to get a loan if you only go part-time. Plan ahead and take out extra during a full-time semester. It’s also a good idea to take some extra out before graduation, so you have something to live on until you find a job. You can always bay back what you don’t use.

Avoid using a credit card! It’s better to take out an unsubsidized loan with a lower interest rate than use a higher interest credit card.

So invest wisely in your future with work, grants, scholarships, and possibly student loans. You will be able to enjoy a better career and support yourself and your family and you will have greater self-confidence. Just remember to pay back those loans.

Eileen Davis (Guest Blogger)

Eileen Davis (Guest Blogger)

I'm a crazy redhead. I have three hyperactive boys and a wonderful husband. I earned my BA in English Language from BYU. I grew up in Southeastern Utah in the middle of nowhere. I now reside by a big lake in Utah.
Eileen Davis (Guest Blogger)

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One Response to School Loans: Invest in Education

  1. Justin says:

    I just recently went through the whole process of applying to university and I can tell you that having a good checklist like this can help a tonne.

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