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Earning a college degree can greatly increase your earning power, but you’ll have a hard time achieving financial success if you graduate with a huge student loan debt.
Not all students fully realize how much their college education will cost, says Brian Martinek, a college funding specialist at Texas Financial Advisory.
“It’s more than just the tuition,” he explained. “Books, housing, meal plan, going out with friends, travel and personal expenses need to be taken into account. Depending on your major, textbooks could cost $1,200 for just one semester. These other costs sneak up on people.”
The national total for student loan debt in the U.S. has reached $1.4 trillion, according to a 2017 report by Experian, the credit reporting company. More than 13 percent of U.S. consumers now have one or more student loans on their credit file, with an average total balance of $34,144.
The price of an education shouldn’t be so high that you enter the workplace overwhelmed by debt, says Eric Tyson, the author of “Personal Finance for Dummies.” In some cases, the benefits of higher education may be outweighed by the cost.
When choosing a college, “people should look at what they’ll get for the money they are spending,” Tyson said. “What will be the payback? As with anything else, you should look for value.”
Fortunately, there are practical ways to reduce the cost of earning a four-year degree. Here are 12 tips for saving money while attending college.