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Navigating the Reality of Student Loan Debt 

College Funding

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3 min Category: College Funding

School Choice and College Costs 

The decision of where to pursue higher education plays a pivotal role in determining the ultimate cost of a college degree. Ivy League institutions and private universities often come with a hefty price tag compared to state or community colleges. While prestigious institutions may offer unique opportunities and resources, prospective students must weigh these benefits against the financial implications. 

Public universities generally have lower tuition fees for in-state residents, making them a more affordable option. They often offer a wide variety of academic programs and majors to choose from, and tend to have larger campuses and student populations, fostering a vibrant and diverse learning environment. Public universities often receive government funding, which can lead to state-of-the-art facilities, research opportunities, and renowned faculty members. Additionally, community colleges can provide a cost-effective foundation for earning general education credits before transferring to a four-year institution. Being strategic about school choice can significantly impact the overall debt burden. 

shot of money and college theme

The Swift Accumulation of Debt 

Student loans accrue interest over time, and the longer it takes to repay these loans, the more the borrower ends up paying. The truth about student loan debt is that the seemingly manageable loan amount can quickly balloon due to compounding interest. Borrowers must be vigilant about understanding the terms of their loans, interest rates and repayment plans to avoid falling into a cycle of debt that seems insurmountable. 

Alternatives to Reduce Loans 

Scholarships and Grants  

Scholarships and grants are invaluable resources for reducing the financial strain of student loans. Typically, scholarships and grants do not have to be repaid. Many organizations, both public and private, offer merit-based and need-based scholarships. Students should actively seek out and apply for these opportunities throughout their academic journey. Every scholarship or grant received is a direct reduction in the overall cost of education. 

Work-study Programs

Another alternative to accumulating excessive student loan debt is participating in work-study programs. These programs allow students to gain work experience while earning money to cover their educational expenses. By balancing work commitments with academic responsibilities, students can contribute to their education costs without solely relying on loans.  

Part-time Employment 

Beyond work-study programs, students can explore part-time employment opportunities during the academic year or summer breaks. Earning income through part-time work can help cover living expenses and reduce the need for additional loans. 

WAEPA’s Free Financial Wellness Program

WAEPA members have access to a free Financial Wellness Program through our partnership with Ernst + Young (EY). This program includes access to tools and financial advisors to help manage day-to-day finances and work towards long-term goals. 

Content courtesy of Ernst + Young (EY), © 2024 Ernst & Young LLP. All Rights Reserved. FinPlantFS 4.2024 

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