By: Bryan Lee, UHEAA
You know that your choice to go to college is an important decision for your future. It will open opportunities for your life. By understanding what you’ll make after you graduate you can make good decisions about your finances while you’re in school. Just like you wouldn’t start building a house before you have a blueprint, it’s important to have a plan before you borrow.
One tip you can use when you decide how much money to borrow is to find out your expected salary and compare your expected salary with your student loan debt. Estimate your total student loan debt by multiplying your first-year loan amount by the number of years in your program. For example, if you’re going for a four-year bachelors degree, multiply your first year loan debt by 4. This will give you a ballpark estimate of your total loan debt.
Then check out your estimated salary by going to a site like salary.com or payscale.com. A good rule of thumb is that your budget for student loans should be 8-10% of your gross monthly income. And remember, it’s easier to change your mind about your future career while you’re in college instead of after you’ve graduated. Take a look at the lifestyle you want to lead and compare it to your chosen profession. If the numbers don’t add up it may be time to start thinking about scaling back on your borrowing. You’ll be happier if you aren’t struggling to make student loan payments while scraping by on your salary.
This is a good way to plan for the future without over-burdening yourself with student loans. Follow these guidelines to feel comfortable that you can handle your student loan payments. College isn’t the time to live lavishly especially if you have to rely on student loans, so sacrifice some of the creature comforts while you’re in school and you’ll thank yourself later. Take advantage of the programs offered by the Department of Education before you look to borrow private student loans.