Why It Matters:
  • Americans owe $1.3 trillion in student loan debt.
  • Build stronger bonds with clients by providing guidance for their college-bound kids.
  • When it comes to conquering student debt, the best start is an early one.

There are over 44 million student loan borrowers in the U.S. with a combined $1.3 trillion in student debt. Chances are, you have at least one client who’s personally combating this or who has college-bound kids who will be.

There’s a misperception that student debt should be left alone until after school, when graduates have a more dependable stream of income. Truth is, the earlier you get started the better.

Sharing the following strategies with clients may help build stronger bonds by demonstrating your attentiveness. Likewise, it may convince the younger generation to stick with you in the future.

Aim to save

As all students know, getting creative with money is required learning on campus. While hectic schedules eat up a lot of time, students should make an effort to prep their own meals whenever possible. The savings can really add up.

The same goes for beverages, especially coffee. Let’s say you grab a cup a day from the local café for $4.00. Five drinks a week times 52 weeks equates to $1,040 a year spent on coffee. Compare this to brewing your own at home, which costs about 16 to 18 cents per cup.

If possible, never buy brand new course materials — consider renting your textbooks or buying them used instead. If you start early, you may be able to find some of your materials free through the school’s library.

For entertainment needs, check bulletin boards and postings around campus for upcoming concerts, movies, exhibits, and other social events. They’re generally affordable, if not free. Bonus: Social activities are thought to help reduce stress levels. According to the American Psychological Association, having strong social support can improve your ability to cope with problems on your own by improving your self-esteem and sense of autonomy.

Find work on/around campus

Getting a part- or full-time job can help keep your expenses down, providing an extra buffer against debt. Business major? Consider asking around the marketing department if they need help. Fitness fanatic? Apply for jobs at the student rec center. Even a quiet position at the library can be fruitful as a built-in study environment during slow hours.

Check out announcements, flyers, and the college newspaper for local job listings. You can rake in additional income online for freelance work as well. Explore sites like Fiverr, UpWork, or TaskRabbit to find work that best fits you. Most projects are short term, granting flexibility every busy student needs.

Explore scholarships or financial aid

Many think scholarships are reserved for students with superior grades or stunning athletic ability. Well, scholarships and financial aid opportunities also exist for students who have trouble paying their tuition. There are free online scholarship search engines that can help you find scholarships that match your skills and situation, even if you’re already in college, such as the search engine available through the College Board.

Meet with a student advisor to talk over your financial situation. While requirements for scholarships and financial aid vary, there may be a scholarship or financial aid program that can help cover some of your tuition. Lastly, don’t forget FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Consider refinancing

Refinancing your loans can help lower your monthly payments, your interest rate, and improve your odds of paying off your loan faster. Explore sites like Make Lemonade, helpful resources with tips and tools for managing your student loans. They recently put together a list of “top student loan refinancing picks for 2017.”

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with stress and anxiety when attempting to chip away at a mountain of debt. If you’re out of school and have already refinanced and still feel helpless, consider doing some research on student loan forgiveness programs. There are four primary programs with varied qualifications and eligibilities. You can learn more about them here.

What to Do:
  • Let clients know there’s no such thing as prepping too early when it comes to student loans.
  • After graduation, refinancing your loan may be incredibly beneficial.
  • Getting over particularly mountainous student debt may require a trajectory shift in life plans. Stay positive and stay proactive.