Smart Borrowing: Limit Your Loan Debt
"Taking Out" the Right Amount
These days, most students require some form of student loans to fund their college or graduate school education. The most critical step in applying for student loans is determining the right loan size for your specific needs and financial well-being.
Taking the full amount of loans for which you are eligible is not always necessary and does not always make financial sense (especially now that some loans, namely Stafford Loans for graduate school students, will accrue interest while you are attending school, beginning July 1, 2012). Borrowing money is always easier than paying it back; a little research and consideration can go a long way in ensuring that your student loan repayments are reasonable and manageable upon graduation from school.
Research Your Educational Costs
"... After determining how much you're eligible to borrow, determine exactly how much you'll need."
After determining how much money you are eligible to borrow for school, determine exactly how much you will need. In addition to tuition costs, you will likely need to consider the costs of housing, transportation, food, and other living and school-related expenses. Identify ways in which you can save in each of these areas, while researching additional sources of money for your education, such as grants, financial aid, scholarships and work-study programs.
"Borrowing money is always easier than paying it back..."
iGrad's got a few great resources that can help in this regard: check out our Top 4 Tips For Graduating Debt Free and our Grants & Scholarships Guide. Once you’ve determined how much your college experience will cost after using all other sources of payments for school, borrow only as much money as you will need.
Student Loan Repayment Calculator
Research Your Future Cost of Living and Income
In addition to considering the costs of your education, it is helpful to consider the cost of living you anticipate after graduating, as well as your expected income. Where do you expect to live after graduating? Will you need to buy a car after college? How much, on average, do professionals make in your field of study? Obviously, a lot can change over the course of your education, but having a rough idea of your future income and costs of living can inform just how much money is appropriate to borrow for school. iGrad's got a great guide to "Student Loan Repayment on a Budget" here. Check out the chart (below) for an idea of how much you will end up paying and how much your monthly payments will be, based on a fixed 6.8% interest rate.
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