Year after year, we are told as students to take out loans only when absolutely necessary. We are told to take out only what we need and use it only for educational purposes. However, the reality is that quite a large number of us use this loan money for living expenses, whether it be for rent, groceries, bills or even to help the family out back at home.
It can be extremely depressing to be so far in debt when you’re doing your best just to survive. When you are constantly told to take out only what you need, how do you determine how much is enough? Even with a job, full or part-time, the bottom line is that college is expensive. Life is expensive. It’s easier to just accept the full amount of the loan and save what you don’t use just in case life happens and Murphy’s Law (Whatever can happen WILL happen) comes into full effect.
It’s also believed that your family is expected to help pay for your education, but, speaking from personal experience, sometimes that’s not an option. Parents cannot always afford to help pay for their children’s education, especially with a low-income job in an area with a desolate economy. Yet, somehow, it is still believed by the federal government that they should still contribute because they earn an x amount in a year. But, again, it doesn’t take into consideration that life happens.
So what can we do? How can we minimize our debt sentence while still taking out these student loans? Like I said before, it’s easier just to accept the full amount of the loans you are eligible to receive. If you don’t think it’s absolutely necessary, try to gauge how much money you’re going to need per semester. Accept enough to cover some of your living expenses and maybe enough for if an emergency happens. Keep a steady budget and watch your funds carefully. At the end of the semester, put what you didn’t spend into a savings account.
You can also start paying your loans back. You don’t have to wait until six months after you graduate. Do what you can while you are still in school. After all, the quicker you start paying back those loans, the less interest you’re going to have to pay.
You shouldn’t feel bad for having to take out student loans just to live on. Life happens, and you’re going to have to have something to fall back on just in case. But it is smart to have a plan, so plan ahead as much as you can. That way your debt sentence does not feel like a death sentence.