Student loan debt stinks. And not just because you have to repay it.
Debt is more than just a financial burden; it’s a psychological one, too. Constantly worrying about how or if you’re going to be able to pay back the growing pile of money you borrowed to put yourself through school is a strain many college students face, and the stress doesn’t just set in six months after graduation when it’s time to start paying back those loans. The archetype of the broke college student isn’t a myth. It’s a haunting reality for many students. Struggling to afford an education can have a serious impact on a student’s studies - and their college experience in general.
Despite a high GPA and a love for learning, going into debt was something that almost made me question whether my college degree was worth it. For a short time, I debated dropping out of college simply because I couldn’t afford it. I didn't want to be indebted when I wasn’t sure I would be able to afford it after I graduated, either. Ultimately, I decided that my education was too important to abandon, but that doesn’t mean the money doesn’t still worry me from time to time.
Here are some ways I’ve found to relieve the anxiety:
Think Big Picture
Remind yourself why you’re pursuing your education in the first place. Chances are, it’s to become qualified for a job that’s going to pay you enough to pay back your loans. The debt might seem unmanageable with the salary (or lack thereof) you make now, but when it comes time to actually pay the money back, you should be in a more financially stable situation.
Focus on Your Studies
If you’re paying all that money to go to school, you might as well get as much out of your education as you can. A lot of students see their college education as “just a degree,” but you don’t have to look at it that way. College is a learning experience. You’re paying for knowledge that’s going to help you out not only in your career, but in your daily life, too, so you might as well get your money’s worth and really pay attention in class. If your university is going to take every penny from your wallet that it can, at least take away every bit of information from your classes that you can. Studying is a great distractor for me, and it keeps you focused on getting good grades and increasing your chances of getting that job you want, too.
Remember You’re Not Alone
Everyone is worried about money, from your classmates to your grandma. A lot of students take out a significant amount of money in loans, and yet most people find a way to manage it after they graduate. For as many horror stories about debt that you hear, there are a lot more success stories that you don’t. While it isn’t ideal, debt is a common reality of receiving a higher education in the United States, and that’s a fact that just has to be accepted. It’s a part of life, not the end of the world.