Going to college can be one of the most exciting stages of anyone’s life. After all, this is the first stage towards the rest of your life. By graduating from college you are setting yourself up for great future success and allowing yourself numerous opportunities that just wouldn’t be afforded to you without the knowledge and of course the piece of paper that graduating from college provides to you. But, even with all of the great things that you can be hopeful for in the future, you’ll never be able to make it that far if you don’t take the time to accurately access your actual costs involved in going to school.
when I first started college 10 years ago, my schooling was paid for, because I went to college at the cost of my school board, since I was doing college as a replacement for my high school classes. This of course meant that I got a great head start on college, but it also meant that I was going to go straight from free college directly into paid college after a few years. This of course proved to be an incredibly bumpy ordeal, because I didn’t get the same explanations that new students would receive during their orientations, because I was already past that stage. This meant that I really had to figure things out on my own. So, with my own research both online and through talking to financial advisers at my college campus, I was able to figure out what I had to do to get my loans established. But, even after I got my loans setup, there were many costs that I really didn’t expect as part of my education.
While there are numerous direct and indirect costs associated with college itself, there are also many other things, that I didn’t realize about the loans that I was applying for. I of course, much like any other student, just signed the papers without really reading them. I figured that everything was pretty standard so i wasn’t all that worried about it. I assumed that the college would have explained anything that was important for me to know, so I went on with my life blissfully ignorant.
Almost 7 years after I first began college and 4 after I started paying for college, I found myself going over my expenses from college. I had to start paying back some of my student loans, so I was looking over them to ensure that they were truly accurate. This is when I found out that I didn’t know quite as much as I thought that I did about the loan process and the costs involved in it.
The very first thing that I discovered was that I wasn’t just paying for my tuition of $250/credit hour, I was also paying for resource fees, student government fees, gym fees, and a variety of other mandatory fees that they really don’t seem to tell anyone that is going to school with student aid. I guess they just assume that the few hundred extra dollars just doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the loan, but it really adds up over each year that you go to school.
Another fee that I noticed was the origination fee. Each loan that I had would be hit by this fee of $25-$50, depending upon the bank that the loan was from. This of course would take another chunk off of my student loan money. And this of course was another fee that I wasn’t aware of before I started.
If you aren’t aware of these fees, then college costs will surprise you greatly when you first look at your bills for your loans for the first time. I know that I was stunned when I realized just how much that I owed. Then after doing more research, i realized that a great deal of my expense was incurred by numerous fees that would add up to half of the cost of a class by the time they were done.
The biggest issue I had was that because I chose not to pay my student loans until 6 months after graduation, the loans had also accumulated a great deal of interest on that money over time. If I had been making regular payments, even small ones, I could have cut down my expenses by thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loans. Unfortunately, I didn’t stop to think about this as most students don’t. So because of that I was stuck with a much higher bill than I thought that I was going to have. While I couldn’t have really avoided most of the expenses, it would have helped to be prepared for them. The main thing to remember is that sometimes it is better to send them $25-$100 per month if you can afford it for the entire time that you are in college. By doing this, you’ll knock out a lot of the interest that you would have been charged over the life of the loan.
The reality is that you need to be smart and pay attention when dealing with your student loans. If you aren’t careful, you could find yourself in a great amount of debt and you really won’t understand how it got quite so bad so fast.