Earn a College Degree with Less Debt

If college students could have one wish it might be to receive a good education without having to spend the next 20 years paying off massive student loans and credit card debt. The truth is, you can earn a great college education with less debt. All it takes is a little savvy money management and self control.

"There are more money issues for today's students than in any other generation before them," says Todd Romer, executive director of Young Money magazine. From the rising cost of college to luxuries like cell phones, today's college students often find themselves with credit card debt malaise by the time they don their cap and gown. Those looking to avoid such a fate and take a proactive approach to debt should give the following tips a try.

Use Credit Cards Sparingly

"Getting a credit card is not a bad idea," says Romer. According to a recent study of student loan applicants conducted by Nellie Mae, a leading provider of higher education loans, 78 percent of all college students today have at least one credit card. That said, Romer advises that students keep their credit card in the deepest part of their wallet to use for emergencies and/or purchases they're fully capable of paying for within 30 days.

Romer also suggests that students call their credit card company and request a $500 spending limit on the card.

Create a weekly spending plan

"In terms of taking charge of your finances, it really starts with knowing what you truly make," says Romer. While more students are working than ever before, many still find they're spending more than they're earning.

"If you monitor your weekly spending plan about twice a week, you should be good to go," adds Romer.

Think Hard About Graduate School

Some new grads who aren't yet ready for the working world decide to attend graduate school immediately after college. While there are right reasons to go to grad school immediately after earning a college education, students should be aware of the financial commitment graduate school represents, not to mention the sacrfice of potentially valuable work experience while continuing their education.

"Gaining work experience is very important and you always have the opportunity to go back to grad school," says Romer. "A lot of times, the company that you are employed by has the ability to pay half, if not all, of your grad school expenses."

Invest, Invest, Invest ...

While recent grads or current students might be scraping pennies together, Romer notes that simply investing $25 to $50 per month is enough to get started.

"Commit to learning how to invest because of the power of time and the power of compound interest," says Romer.

Romer adds that another benefit of students investing while earning a college education is how it actually alters spending in other areas of life.

"Once students see that their money is beginning to work for them, they might look at how they're spending money on things like clothing," Romer says. "They might say, 'Maybe I don't need that $80 pair of shoes.' They look at their account and see it's growing and want to be able to add more to it."

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