Student loan debt is growing by the second — for the first time in history it has surpassed the total credit card debt. Avoiding credit card debt is a lot easier than avoiding student loan debt. Many individuals view college as an investment for the future, an opportunity to grow in a career and earn more income, but unfortunately that invest comes with a high price tag.
Here is a list of six of the worst things you can do when dealing with student loans, adapted from Investopedia:
1. A Little White Lie Could Hurt Everyone
Lying on any sort of application can come back to haunt you, especially when its on a student loan application. Finding loopholes to get more money by fibbing on parental incomes and savings is not worth the repercussions of being caught. You will not only lose the loan, but you will be expected to pay any fines associated with falsifying documents. This also could be considered fraud and punished with a prison sentence, which would ruin your record and harm your employment eligibility.
2. Spending Here and There
When time is limited and activities are plentiful it is easy to fall into the spending trap. Many college students who have taken out loans live like they have more money than they actually have. Even students who are employed throughout college forget to put part of their paycheck toward paying off loans upon graduation. Many social events revolve around spending money, whether its birthday dinners, bar hopping or just grabbing coffee with a friend, $10 or $20 here and there adds up. Setting up a simple budget and sticking to it will help in the long run. One important thing to think about when creating a budget is differentiating between needs and wants.
3. Not Saving Extra Money
It is important to recognize that spending loan money is basically the same as spending your money. This may seem like an elementary statement, but many times it can be easy to get caught up in having access to money you previously did not have access to. Often students may receive more loan money for the semester than needed. When this happens it should be seen as an opportunity to save, as opposed to an opportunity to indulge.
4. Taking More than You Need
Being in debt for educational purposes is understandable, but it is important to not take on any more debt than you can handle in the future. According to Investopedia, “Some experts suggest that your monthly student loan payment should be no more than 10% of your expected salary. Calculate your monthly loan payments based on a 10-year repayment schedule, including interest, then find out the average starting salary for your career choice. If your loan payments will be higher than 10%, look at reducing the amount you borrow, either through producing more income or switching to a less expensive program.”
5. Forgetting Payments
If you can’t keep up with payment or if you forget to make certain payments, you are hurting your credit score and potentially causing lending problems in the future. Even if you do catch up with payments, the record of your missed payments can stay permanently. If you need to readjust your loan to fit your schedule and budget better it is best to do that as soon as possible. You could find more affordable student loans that you may not have initially known about.
6. Don’t Default
So what happens when you forget about your loan payments? Nothing good. Putting off your loan payments for 270 or more days will cause your loan to default and cause your lender to put penalties on your loan. The lender could take money from your paychecks, income tax refund or seek other means of getting its money back.
Taking out a college loan is stressful and often a worry students put off until they graduate. This can be one of the worst things to do, the more you plan and account for the money you have borrowed the easier it will be pay off later. It also helps when a family is able to support each other and all make an effort to learn and manage the loans.