Students who hastily choose a major often waste a lot of time and money when they later change their plans. Changing a program or major can easily add thousands of dollars per semester to a students overall debt load. The longer you stay in a program that isn't right for you, the costlier the result.
If you are unsure of what major to choose, consider enrolling in "career exploration" that will allow you to take core classes that are applicable to many different programs while you learn about career options and find the program that is right for you. This can save you thousands of dollars down the road.
Once you decide on a program or major, look at the various job choices that you will have with your degree in that field. Also look at the earning potential for that degree. Do a job search as if you have already earned your degree. Will the beginning salary range for the field you have selected be enough to comfortably allow you make your student loan payments? If not, are you willing to sacrifice your financial future to stay in the program you selected?
Many students entering college are accustomed to a lifestyle that their parent's have established through years of hard work. Unless your parents are willing to continue supporting you in that lifestyle while you are in college, you may have to make some difficult choices to ensure your own personal stability for your future.
Examine your finances and establish a budget.
Stick to your budget.
Avoid credit-card traps.
Don't make compulsive purchases you cannot afford.
Don't eat at restaurants if you have a meal plan.
Drink coffee at campus dining facilities versus pricier vendors.
Utilize free or low-cost campus entertainment options.
Start saving your pennies and spare change in a jar for emergencies.
Get a part-time job to help cover your expenses.
Get a roommate. Private rooms can add thousands of dollars to your overall housing bill.
Hold off on purchasing a personal computer until you graduate. The laptop computer you purchase as a freshman will likely be obsolete when you go into the workforce. You don't want to pay interest on loans that you used for outdated technology.
If you have money saved from open houses or other savings plans, use those resources before you borrow.
Each time you are presented with loan options it is recommended that you log into the National Student Loan Data System to review your total federal loan debt. You may also use available loan calculators to estimate your student loan payments before you take out those loans.
Re-taking classes because you did not pass them the first time is very costly. Not only do you have to pay each time you re-take them, but you may have to pay for extended living expenses for additional semesters as well.
Work with your academic advisor to develop a plan to take all of the necessary courses to earn your degree in as short a time as possible, and stick to that plan. Adding electives, taking reduced course loads that allow you to "coast" through the classes that you do take, can add thousands of dollars to your education costs.
Student loans are often necessary to help families cover the cost an education. When you and your family determine that you must borrow money to finance your education, keep the following tips in mind: