4 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Student Stuck in the $1.4 Trillion Student Loan Trap

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Student loan debt is strangling younger generations, swelling to $1.4 trillion in the United States and growing over $833 billion in the last decade. Student loan debt seems to be unavoidable, and it has ruined a lot of people’s chances to get a home, car or ahead in life.

Statistics show that 13% of consumers in American have student loan debt.

The average student loan debt amount has ballooned to $34,000 – before a person even lands a career. It’s difficult to get ahead in life when your debt-to-income ratio is so high the moment you graduate.

Lenders won’t budge and allow you to even get a house in many cases.

So, what can you do to avoid being another statistic?

1. Apply for Every Scholarship You Can Find

Education is expensive, and there’s little you can do to lower these costs. Scholarships are free money, and they’re an avenue that every student should seek. The problem is that a lot of students forget to sign up for scholarships.

You’ll find that there are scholarships that are rather peculiar, such as:

  • Clowns of America International Scholarship
  • Common Knowledge Challenge Scholarship
  • Doodle 4 Google Scholarship

There are even scholarships for people who want to enter the funeral services field. There are scholarships for everything – or so it seems.

The first place of contact that I recommend for finding scholarships is your financial aid department. These individuals have lists of local scholarships and other financial assistance programs that may help you pay for college,

When you’ve exhausted this resource, you can use a lot of online sites, including:

Apply, apply and apply. If you don’t apply for a scholarship, you’ll never be considered. You have nothing to lose but free money for your education.

2. Tuition-Free College

Did you know that there are tuition-free colleges?

A few of the colleges that are free include:

  • Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky
  • Barclay College in Kansas
  • College of the Ozarks in Missouri
  • Brown University in Rhode Island
  • Columbia University in New York

There are several more listed in the link above. Income restrictions apply for some of the colleges, so keep this in mind. While you won’t be eligible for all of the tuition-free colleges, they offer a great path to a free education.

A lot of them are highly reputable and include big-named colleges.

Brown, for example, is a highly respected school where families earning less than $60,000 per year are not required to contribute to their child’s education.

3. Public Service Loan Forgiveness

If you’re like me and have debt so high that your eyes start to swell thinking about it, you also have options to get rid of student loan debt. There are forgiveness programs available from the government that can help you overcome crippling student loan debt.

But you are limited to where you can work for 120 months, or 10 long years.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program forgives loans when you work for either the:

  • Government
  • Non-profit organization

Qualifying employment is the hardest criteria to meet, and this means working for the government on any level. Non-profit organizations and organizations that are non-tax exempt yet still non-profit may count.

There are some stipulations, such as the employer can’t be a labor union or partisan political organization.

Since the program started in 2007, you’ll only be able to have Direct Student Loans forgiven for payments made after October 2007.

4. Seek Alternatives to Student Loans

Colleges and universities are going to continue charging a commission to their students. If you plan to reduce or not take out any student loans, you’ll, more than likely, need to start working and paying for your schooling yourself.

But there are other options available, too, including:

  • Federal and state grants
  • Private scholarships
  • Institutional grants and scholarships
  • Work-study programs
  • Fellowships
  • Employer tuition assistance
  • City or state programs
  • Military aid

Student loans pile up quickly, and before you know it, you’re stuck with so much debt that you can’t turn back. These tips can help you ease the student loan debt burden.

Jacob Maslow is a native New Yorker with  five children. He left his payroll manager position after finding that his true passion was in writing, and has never looked back.

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