Forty million people in the U.S. have at least one outstanding student loan, making the student loan debt of $1.2 trillion the second largest of outstanding household debt after mortgage debt. When enrolling in an expensive college or university, student loans can seem like the best solution. However, sometimes the math doesn’t add up.

Think of college loans in the same way as living on credit. It seems like an easy solution at the time, but it’s impossible to know your financial standing in the future. You may not be in a better position to repay your student loans in a few years than you are now.

Here are a few questions to consider before taking out significant school loans:

  1. Does my school provide their graduates with high job placement rates, high earning potential, or a network of people to help with career placement and development?
  1. What will my earning power be with my desired degree?    hile there’s no way of knowing if you will in fact get your desired job, or even get a job right out of college, it’s clear that some industries have higher salaries than others.
  1. Do I qualify for any scholarships from the government or local organizations?
  1. Can I work my way through college? Are there jobs I can work that are flexible with my school schedule?

Finding a job within your school is a good way to ensure flexibility with your class schedule. You could also find a professional job to start building up your resume and help you stand out when applying for jobs after college.

Getting through college without the burden of student loans is very possible, it just requires planning, creativity, and hard work!

Download Karlan Tucker‘s new report: “Why I Hate Student Debt (and you should too!)”  today!