If you are going to college, you will likely graduate with debt

A college savings plan is smart. But a college “paying” plan is an absolute must.

American Consumer Credit Counseling delivers guidance on dealing with those tuition bills.

Boston, MA – June 16, 2022

The blunt financial reality of the American college experience is that most students who graduate will do so while carrying the first major debt of their lifetimes. As families and households see their children advance through secondary school on a college-prep track, the focus is most often on saving for college using a 529 savings plan or other financial instruments.  But dealing with tuition bills in real time once college begins can be the biggest challenge. National nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is advising clients being ready for this as tuition bills for the fall semester begin to come due.

The U.S. is one of the most expensive countries in which to attend college, leaving most students to rely at least partially on higher education loans. According to an analysis by the think tank Urban Institute, 70 percent of students who receive a bachelor’s degree have student loan debt by the time they graduate. The average annual cost to attend college in the U.S. is now approximately $35,000 per year, according to the Education Data Initiative.

“Attending college has become one of the largest financial burdens of an individual’s lifetime, and very often that burden is shared by parents,” said Allen Amadin, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “It’s a harsh reality. But it should not discourage prospective students from pursuing a higher education degree. There are resources and strategies to help students and their families manage the cost of college – and get those tuition bills paid.”

Here are several steps and strategies for planning ahead and being prepared to deal with the challenge of paying for college:

  1. Create a budget: Creating a budget is the first step to know where more financial support is needed. A budget can be created by putting together all of your expenses such as tuition, books, room and board and transportation during a determined period of time. A college cost calculatorcan help determine the total costs associated with your college education in order to create an accurate and realistic budget.
  2. Scholarships and grants: Applying to financial aid is important because it does not only provide loans, but also grants, which is money that does not have to be paid back. Another option is to apply to scholarships outside of the college you are applying to. There are several search platforms which help to know what scholarships you are eligible for.
  3. Lower-cost alternatives: Many colleges allow core classes or entry level course work to be take during summer or winter breaks at lower-costs community colleges or through online options. This can help reduce the total cost of tuition.
  4. Work-study: If as a last resource you still had to get a federal student loan – which have lower interest rates – work-study jobs are one way to pay for those loans while you study. This program allows students to send payments directly to lenders.

A debt-free future can be difficult or in some cases impossible for some college students. But planning and using these and other strategies can help reduce the total amount of debt and allow graduates to focus on career goals and starting to build wealth.

About American Consumer Credit Counseling

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management through credit counseling, debt management, bankruptcy counseling, housing counseling, student loan counseling, and financial education concerning debt solutions. To help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loan assistance, youth and money, homeownership, identity theft, senior living, and retirement. Consumers can use ACCC’s worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®). For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit http://www.consumercredit.com/financial-education.aspx