“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” is a famous piece of fatherly advice that may sound familiar from your Intro to Shakespeare class. But for many of today’s college students, it’s just not realistic to make it through four years of tuition, fees and expenses without borrowing at all. The key is to borrow wisely in order to minimize your post-graduation debt. Here are 7 borrowing tips for students:
1. Tap other sources first
Perchance a relative, religious or civic group or scholarship organization would be willing to help foot your college expenses. Be sure you’ve thoroughly researched all your free money options before you borrow.
2. Borrow only what you need
You don’t have to borrow the maximum amount offered to you in your financial aid package. ‘Tis nobler to work out a budget first, then borrow just what’s necessary.
3. Track your spending
Save your receipts and keep a record of where your money is going, perhaps using a computer program. Alas, you may find you are financing an expensive latte habit or overspending on meals in restaurants.
4. Use credit cards wisely
Hark! Never use your credit card to get cash advances, which typically carry steep charges that begin accruing immediately. Always pay more than the minimum balance. And shop around to get the best credit card deal possible.
Minimize your debt level by getting a job that you can do part-time during the school year and during the summer and school breaks. It may not be fun now, but to thine own self you will one day be grateful -- when you are able to pay off your student debt years earlier than you would have otherwise.
6. Pay consumer debt first
When the time cometh that you do have some extra cash, pay off your credit cards – which typically come with far less favorable terms than student loans -- first.
7. Pay your bills on time
Late-paid bills can turn up as blemishes on your credit record – and those are the type of spots that you’ll curse (much like Lady Macbeth) when it comes time to determine your eligibility for home and other types of loans.