By: Michele Mackin
If you are like most high school graduates or thinking of going back to college, the prospect of having to pay for it can be overwhelming if you don't have a lot of money saved. According to a survey completed in 2015 of 5,000 Americans by marketwatch.com, approximately 62% only had about $1,000 in savings, and another 20% didn't even have a savings account. Additionally, the average cost of college tuition in America today according to collegedata.com for the 2015-2016 school year is $9,410 for in-state residents at a public college, $23,893 for out-of-state residents attending a public college, and $32,405 for private colleges. These costs do not include text books or living expenses if you are not going to be living at home or with family who can help support you. Finally, there are supplemental expenses to consider such as computers, lab fees, tutoring, etc. So, the big question is, how does a person pay for it all?
The answer is not simple; paying for college usually involves multiple strategies. Assuming you have nothing saved for college, the most obvious solution would be complete the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, with the United States Department of Education on their website. By doing so, you will find out if and what types of students loans you may qualify for. This is usually the best option if you have to borrow money to help pay for college, because interest rates are typically lower and the term of repayment is more flexible. However, you should only borrow money if no have exhausted all other options in paying for your education, because a large student loan debt upon graduation can be burdensome. Interest will continue to accrue on your student loan if you wait to start making payments, only adding to the total amount you owe and make paying back your loan even more difficult. Consider any type of loan as if in the same category as an emergency; don't borrow the money unless you absolutely have to!