Iowa College Aid Insider: Succeeding in College and Career (Feb. 2018)
Did you know you can slash the total cost of your student loan? By paying more than the minimum balance, you’ll be debt-free sooner and pay less interest. You might be surprised just how much less. Let’s assume a student has $30,000 in loan debt (the average for Iowa graduates) at 4.45 percent interest (the current rate for federal loans). Here’s how a change in monthly payments affects the overall cost of the loan:
Years to pay off loan
Total cost (loan + interest)
Increasing the monthly payment by about $165 cuts the amount of interest by more than 40 percent and reduces the life of the loan by four years. It might take strict budgeting, but the benefits are huge. And remember: There’s no penalty for paying off student loans early.
Whether you’re struggling with a paper or contemplating your career, your campus probably has resources to help you. Don’t muddle through alone. Look for assistance here:
- Tutoring or writing center: Student employees are trained to assist their peers, and these centers might offer one-on-one or group assistance.
- Library: Yes, these still exist, and many of them have digitized collections with search engines that are far more reliable than Google. Plus, librarians are trained to help you track down the information you need.
- Health center: Scope this out (location, hours, fees) before you need it. You don’t want to sweat the details while you’re feeling crummy.
- Fitness center: Your campus activity fee might already cover your membership, so take advantage.
- Counseling center: Student life—and life in general—can be stressful. Don’t ignore this valuable resource.
- Career or job placement center: This is a great place to check in as you near graduation and start your search for full-time work. But it can come in handy even sooner, with listings for part-time jobs or occasional weekend work.
Your scholarship search wasn’t a one-and-done deal. You should still be applying, even beyond your first year of college. Some grants and scholarships might be for a year only. Besides, tuition and other costs will probably rise between your freshman and senior years. You should keep scouting for new sources of funding as long as you’re in school. Talk to your adviser and your financial aid office. Does your school-based aid automatically renew each year? Does the school offer scholarships specific to your major? Does your adviser know of any professional organizations that award scholarships in your field? If you do earn new scholarships, be sure to notify your financial aid office.