If you are a college graduate raise your hand if you have student loan debt? I'm not a psychic, but I'm sure that 80% of the people that are reading this article has student loan debt right now. I still have student loan debt, a lot of it. I hope to eliminate it within the next year and a half. I have some work to do, but I know that I can make it happen.

As a nation, we owe over $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. That number is astounding. The amount continues to rise each year due to rising tuition costs across the country. This is not okay. Student loan debt is affecting people in a lot of different ways. It is delaying folks from the opportunity of buying a house. Student loan debt is also stopping people from investing. All of their money goes to loan payments, so a lot of folks can't invest.

This cycle has been going on for years. Nobody seems to know how to stop it. Today, I want to share with you five different things that students can do to help them break the student loan cycle.

Attend a Community College

Community colleges don't get the glitz and the glamor of going to a four-year school, but you can save so much money attending one. According to College Board, the average cost of tuition at a two-year school is $3400. The average tuition at a four-year school is over $9400. That's a six thousand dollar difference! Depending on what the student was awarded, they may be able to cover the $3400 with the Pell Grant and scholarships. There would be no reason to take out a student loan.

Go to an In-State School

Tip number two is to attend a college in-state. Every student may not want to go to college in-state, but you can save serious money by doing so. Let's compare the in-state and out of state tuition and fees at Georgia State University. If you are a Georgia resident taking 12 credits, your tuition and fees would be roughly $4500. If you're coming from out of state, you would be paying over $11,700. That's a big jump. Most out of state students have to take out more loans until they are considered in-state students which can take up to two school years in some cases.

Student Loan Debt Standing in the Way of Future Homeowners


The third thing that students can do to break the student loan debt circle is to apply for scholarships. Many states award student scholarships if they graduate with a certain gift. Students can also search online for scholarships. There are many sites dedicated to helping students find money for school. They just have to be proactive and find them.

Live at Home

This option isn't available for everyone, but you should stay and live at home if it is possible. Room and board is another cost that seems to go up each year. Many students have enough aid until those room and board fees are factored in. To pay for it, many students have to accept their federal loans. If that’s still not enough, they have to apply for a private loan. If you have the chance to stay at home, do it. That would help the student loan debt in this country get smaller.

Work While You're in School

The final thing that students can do is to work while they are in school. Find a job on or off campus. Save as much money as you can. Then use that money to help pay for the upcoming semester. At 18 or 19 years old, that may not be the easiest thing for a person to do, imagine if most college students did it. There would be fewer students needing loans.

In summary, the five steps that could help the country break the student loan debt cycle are to attend a community college, attend an in-state school, apply for scholarships, live at home and work while you're in school. I know that everyone won't be able to do them. If we are being real, there's a couple of them on the list that I still wouldn't do even if I could go back in time and change my situation. If you're a college student decide what you can do, so that you don't acquire too much student loan debt. 1.3 trillion dollars is a lot of money to owe. As a country, we have to do much better. I think that we can make it happen if we all take a look at our situations.

Image Copyright © Joe Brusky