A college degree is a significant investment in your future, but no one wants to be saddled with student loan debt for the rest of their life. There are ways to finish your college education faster, but the cost of tuition can add up quickly. As you prepare to choose your college, it’s important to ask yourself: is it better to finish college faster or debt-free?
Working Through College To Be Debt-Free
One of your options to finish college with less debt is to work full-time while you attend classes part-time. If you’re supporting a family or already in a steady employment position, this can be a great option. However, attending school part-time means you will be in school longer, which can mean higher tuition in the long run.
To decide if this is the right option for you, consider how your earning power will increase once you graduate with your degree. Will the costs of attending full-time be offset by the increased income? If you have a lot of financial responsibilities, this might not be a factor as you have to meet your other financial obligations instead.
Applying for College Scholarships
If you qualify for scholarships and grants, you could attend school full-time and graduate faster without racking up student loan debt. There are so many scholarships out there that could help in whatever situation you’re facing, so before taking out student loans, be sure to search for scholarships you may qualify for.
Ask everyone you know if they’re aware of any scholarship opportunities or take your search online to any of several college scholarship search sites to figure out if you’ll qualify for any free money.
Taking Out Student Loans
Of course, if you don’t qualify for a scholarship or grant, you always have the option to take out student loans to cover your college expenses without working. Attending school full-time is expensive, but it also means you’ll graduate more quickly and can start earning more money faster.
If you can’t feasibly work and attend college, consider increasing your course load to graduate faster. Reduce your expenses by living as cheaply as you can and working during the summer to reduce the amount of money you have to borrow each year.
Finding a Balance
So, is it better to finish college faster or debt-free? There’s no single right answer. Some students have a hard time trying to work while attending college, so they’ll work over the summer and save money to balance out the amount of money they have to borrow. Other people have financial obligations to meet outside of school, so they work full-time and attend classes part-time or over the summer instead.
Finding the right balance for your needs is crucial, and a lot of it will depend on your major, your expected income, and how much you end up having to borrow. No matter which option you choose, make sure to follow a college budget and keep your expenses down.