How to Save on Student Loans While Still in College

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Today we have a super sweet guest post from Laur of http://laurdavidson.com. Enjoy!

When it comes to college, let me tell you, it is expensive, especially if you are not prepared for it.

Unfortunately, when I first started college, I was unaware of just how pricey it would be and how I would pay for it. I grossly underestimated exactly how much money I needed to pay for tuition.

I considered starting off at a local community college to save money but when I was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania, I knew I had to take advantage of it.

Though I am glad that I took the path that I did, it has definitely caused me some financial anxiety.

Despite the high cost of my college, I have worked hard to minimize the amount of student loans I had to take out to pay for college.

In this post, I want to go over the ways I save on student loans while I am in college.

My hope is that this article will help you and encourage you to keep the amount you borrow to a minimum, so you do not have to worry about the stress of student loan debt.

Make Payments When I Can

One of the ways that I save on my student loans while in school is by making payments on them.

Specifically, I pay at least the interest every month.

This is an optional thing and most students simply opt to defer the interest payments until they have graduated or stopped going to school.

If you select to defer the payments, though, you will owe a lot more money in the long run. I help myself save a lot of money on my student loans simply by making these payments.

I found this handy calculator that will show you your long term savings potential by prepaying your loans.

In addition, whenever I have extra money, I apply it to the amount of student loans I do owe, so the principal loan balance is paid down.

Fortunately, I do not owe too much and I am able to see progress immediately. 

Participating in the Work-Study Program

The next thing that I do to avoid more student loan debt than I have is I participate in the work-study program.

This program provides me with a paycheck and I work for the school in return.

I can then apply the money I receive directly to my tuition. I like this program because I can work right here on the campus and the school works around my schedule to ensure I can make the money I need to pay for school.

If you want to know if you meet the requirements for this program, you will need to fill out the relevant information on the FAFSA.

The FAFSA should have a section on it where you must answer whether or not you want to participate in this program. If you select yes, then you will be given an amount that you are eligible to earn over the course of your employment.

Applying for Scholarships

The last thing that I did throughout college (even at the start of my senior year) is applying for scholarships.

There are two different ways that I did this.

The first method I used was applying to scholarships specific to my school. For example, I was always in good academic standing and was able to apply for a scholarship at my school based on that.

I was awarded it twice in my college career and each time I receive $500 towards my tuition and other expenses.

The second method I used is applying for all scholarships that were offered by different foundations, individuals, and organizations.

I tried to limit the scholarships I applied to and only applied to ones that were smaller in size or ones that were focused on the industry my degree is in.

This helped ensure that the scholarships weren’t too competitive. I did apply for some of the larger scholarships too, but the competition was substantial and I never won any.

I would recommend that you apply for as many scholarships as you can.

I do know that I regret not doing this when I was in high school because then I may not have even needed the student loans I have.

It is never too early to apply for scholarships and you can receive as many as you win, so you are not limited in this area.

Final Thoughts on Paying Down My Student Loans in College

I am proud to say that I was able to work hard to pay down my student loans while in college and I have taken steps to make sure that I am in a good position for successful repayment.

Remember, if you have student loans, work hard to make additional payments when you can and opt to make interest payments monthly.

By Laur Davidson, a 20-something freelance writer and soon-to-be graduate from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Taylor K. Gordon is a writer and money blogger. She writes on how to live your best life without going broke.

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