Most students at tertiary institutions are there on the back of student loans. Unless you have wealthy parents or you are smart enough to qualify for a scholarship or bursary, it is almost inevitable that you will end up funding your studies through some sort of loan. These loans tend to have low interest for the duration of the study period, but conventional rates post-graduation. So, if you don’t want to enter the world of work with a big debt around your neck you need to come up with plans to pay for your loan as quickly as possible. Here are a few ideas.
With any debt the biggest pain comes from servicing the interest. Depending on the size of the loan, the interest can be significant, and the bulk of the monthly payments go towards servicing that rather than to reducing the capital amount. So, to mitigate against this, look to try and pay as much off the capital amount while you are still studying, and the interest rates are low. Any student loans company will be happy with this. A part-time job will go a long way towards this solution. And remember that every little bit count. You still need to live and enjoy yourself, but you should be putting some of your part-time earnings into the loan every time that you are paid.
Once you have graduated and entered the world of regular employment, look to hustle a bit on the side as well. Dedicate your extra income, from whatever it is that you do on the side, to paying off the loan. Hustles are always there, you just have to look for them. You can tutor undergrads, coach sport, DJ at parties or edit literature. There are plenty of angles, you just need to find them and make sure that they can fit into your afterhours routine and not impact on your actual job.
Making an actual budget is a very important thing to do. Once you are earning you need to have one that plots your income and expenses. And recognise that being in debt is not a place that you want to be for long. If you accept that as a premise, then budgeting becomes easier. The first goal should be to wipe out the debt, thereafter you can focus on other things – like vacations or motor vehicles or fancy clothes. But get rid of that student loan debt first because it will start impacting on your lifestyle if it is still being serviced three or five years after you have graduated.
As you enter active employment and you are negotiating job contracts with new employers, ask them about the package that they offer and what benefits are included. Look to structure something that works for you and them. Most places will structure a package based on overall cost to company which means that if they pay you a flat salary or a salary that factors in medical and pension and student loan contributions it is the same for them. Getting them to pay into your loan directly could work for both you and them. It means you never get to touch the money intended for loan repayments and they could stand to get a tax break. At the very least, ask them.