College freshmen advised to change spending habits to avoid debt

College tuition is steadily growing at a national rate of 5 percent each year, but the amount of student debt for 2011 college graduates is 8 percent higher than last year’s. As counselors at Consolidated Credit get more and more inquiries regarding student debt, they advise incoming college freshmen to evaluate their budget and spending habits to avoid contributing to the upward-spiraling debt trend.

The 2010-2011 school year tuition for an in-state four-year public school is roughly $16,000; for out-of-state students it’s $28,000, according to a report from the College Board. For those attending private institutions, tuition is estimated to be around $36,993.

2011 college graduates are leaving school with $22,900 in debt – that’s the highest number we’ve ever seen at Consolidated Credit. The students starting college this year, the class of 2015, are going to have to change their habits to avoid being victims of high interest loans and fees.

With the increasing cost of college, a growing number of students are forced to look at alternate methods of funding. More than 65 percent of students use loans to finance their education. As of December 2010, student debt has accumulated to $530 billion.

Consolidated Credit offers advice to incoming freshmen who wish to avoid years of paying back loans.

  1. Off-campus vs. On-campus
    For a double-dorm at the University of Florida, the average cost is $2,378 per semester. This means sharing a room with one other roommate, a communal restroom with 25 people and a kitchen with 50. Renting an off-campus apartment with two other people is about $1,800 a semester, and each roommate would have their own private rooms.
  2. Community college
    More and more high school graduates are attending community colleges for the first two years of college before transferring over to a university. One credit hour at South Florida Community College is $99.55 for residents and $375.58 for out-of-state students. For a public university near the same area, Florida Atlantic University for example, it costs $177.65 per credit hour for in-state and $657.17 for out-of-state students. Undergraduates are allowed to transfer to a university after 60 credits from a community college and finish their degree at a university (typically 60-64 more credits). In the end, the degree is certified from the university.
  3. Textbooks
    Textbooks cost from $500-$1,000 per semester for a full-time student (12-15 credits). The average cost of one textbook is $61.66. The majority of students will purchase used textbooks from their school’s bookstore, but not enough students take the time to check online for less expensive books. Multiple professors teach the same course, especially with general education classes. Each educator chooses which books, if any, to implement.

Since 1993, Consolidated Credit,a non-profit 5013 ( c ) organization, has provided educational assistance, budget planning, as well as credit and debt management plans throughout the United States.

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