5 Tips to Avoid the Debt Cycle

1. START EARLY - Begin your success early in high school, this will allow for more options in college and a better financial path that suites your situation!

2. EXPRESS YOUR EXCITMENT - Relatives and family will usually be more than happy to help with your education! Sometimes it just takes your excitement for them to support you... or to break out their checkbook!

3. SCHOLARSHIPS - There are an endless supply of scholarship organizations READY to give money to students. Writing an essay, giving a speech, or simply filling out a form, can set you up for money towards tuition, book costs, etc.

4. JOB - Donít hesitate to get a part time job! Work at your school and get tuition cuts and benefits, while working around your class schedule!

5. ONLY BORROW WHAT YOU NEED - It makes no sense to take out loans that carry interest if you arenít using the money for your education! You donít want to pay interest on money just sitting in your account. The less you borrow, the less you will need to pay back in the long run.

When young children and pre-teens think of college, it is either in a very ambitious manner or in a very negative tone more school? No way! Regardless of how they feel about higher education, there will come a point in their lives when reality hits and secondary schooling needs to be a very serious thought on their minds.

This point in time came to my attention when I was a freshman in high school. This was the first time in my life I became truthfully excited about furthering my education and eventually gaining knowledge in the field of my choice. I soon noticed my options narrowed as I made it further into high school. The work started to get harder and this reflected on my options moving forward. Before I knew it, I had a tough decision to make by my junior year of high school; where was I going to go to college and who would accept me? I was a dedicated student who had a basic understanding of what field I wanted to enter after graduation. While applying for schools I realized I had a choice based on which ones would accept me, the location, and most importantly the COST!

Out of high school, I attended The University of Arizona as a Business Economics major. I chose this school because I thought it would be my best option for success based on their business program, school atmosphere, and many classmates also attending. I did not enjoy my first year there as I thought I would and immediately knew I needed to transfer. One of my reasons for doing so was that I had wiped out nearly half of my college fund on 1 year of schooling. This was not an economical decision on my part; therefore I transferred to Northern Arizona University for my 2nd year where the tuition is nearly 1/2 the price!

Looking back, I am extremely grateful that my parents planned ahead and created a college fund for me. I know many people do not have that luxury and I strongly encourage starting a college savings plan for new parents out there. Itís never too early to begin a college fun for your child, niece, nephew, etc. and this type of account or fund will drastically change their livesÖ I can say this from personal experience. My college savings has provided me with financial freedom in higher education and truly eliminates the stress of student loans and when, if ever, they will be paid off. With recent news of student interest rates possibly doubling and a very broken higher education system, especially in California. I have deep worry for my friends and co-graduates who take the route of financial aid.

Financial aid is the only pathway for some individuals and that is why I believe it is unfair that they will be paying off these loans until their late 20ís and beyond. It recently came to my attention how difficult it is in California, among other states, to graduate in 4 years with recent budget cuts and plummeting accepting rates. I realized that I will potentially graduate in 2015 along with thousands of grads some of which are on financial aid and some that are blessed with a college fund. Assuming both graduates obtain jobs somewhat quickly after receiving degrees and earn similar pay, the students who were on aid must ration a large sum of each paycheck toward interest on their loans. While they are putting nearly half or more of each paycheck into interest payments, students that had a college fund are putting that same amount into savings for retirement, an IRA, and most importantly a college savings plan for their children. This puts future grads who did not receive loans with an upper hand on starting a college fund for their son or daughter while the possibility of an aid-grad with little to no chance of doing the same. This can be a vicious cycle that can last for generations if it is not addressed very early on.

Helping all to find financial comfort.

SOFA Team
America's #1 Financial Literacy Resource