I’m in my second year of college, and I have already accumulated over $7,000 in student loan debt. A lot of my friends seem to be ignoring the issue with the goal of being able to pay off their debt when they get out of college, but it’s starting to become a major concern of mine.

I’ve read that the average student in 2017 ended with $28,650 worth of student loan debt. The number is said to be rising, and now 44 million people have a total of $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. 

How can I avoid going into debt while being a student?

A lot of ways to avoid student loan debt start before you go to college, but you’re already enrolled with over $7,000 in debt. The good news is that while you have some debt, you don’t have to continue increasing your debt while in college.

One recommendation that I am going to make includes going to a community college. The community college is where you’ll want to take all of your core classes, such as English, Math and Science. You'll want to discuss this option with a counselor and make sure that all of the classes will transfer to your current college.

Community colleges are much more affordable, and in many cases, you’ll often be able to receive scholarships that cover the cost of attending.

Speaking of scholarships, actively seek out scholarships every semester. Do not rely on the school’s financial aid department. You should start searching for and applying for scholarships. Keep your grades up, and you will position yourself to be accepted for scholarships at a much higher rate.

You'll also want to look into grants. There are government grants that you can apply for that may be able to cover your cost of college. Your financial aid counselor will be able to walk you through the application process.

Speaking of financial aid, make sure that you apply for your FASFA every year even if you were denied aid in the past.

If you’re living in a dorm, try to live with your parents or family member instead because dorms are very expensive.

Internships, especially paid internships, are able to help you learn more about your career choice and profession while also offering you a paycheck. If you’re unable to secure an internship, it may be time to find a part-time job.

Your goal will be to work as much as you can while still maintaining a high GPA. The money from your part-time job should all be funneled back into your education. Many students are being told to take their time with college and go part-time while they work to cover the costs of college.

This is a very difficult scenario because on one hand, you’ll be able to pay off your education as you go, but on the other hand, you may be holding back your career and earning potential in the process.

You'll also want to start writing down all of your expenses, buy your own food, budget and also avoid credit card use at all costs.

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