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PFCollege: Use Student Loans for School Only!

Student loans come in all colors, flavors and sizes but they mean one thing for a ‘poor’ college kid – easy money. I was lucky enough to get out of college with only $25,000 or so in student loan debt but all of the $25k went towards tuition. I actually didn’t even have the opportunity to test my will power because the proceeds from the loan were directly deposited into my account at the university, so I can’t take credit for not spending it on a nice flat screen television or a new computer. That being said, it’s critically important that you not spend your student loan check on anything other than student related expenses. In fact, if you are getting more money than you need, return it.

Some would argue that the generally favorable terms of a student loan represents easy access to funding that you could use to invest in the stock market or in a business idea. Some would say that you should take it and enjoy your college years, you have the rest of your life to be responsible. I say: resist the urge, return the money. This all goes back to the idea of keeping the financial hole you’re in as shallow as possible while you don’t have any appreciable income. When you graduate, you will be entering the work force and the debt you’ve acquired in college will only hold you back.

After the grace period of the loan expires, if a grace period exists, you’ll have to start making monthly payments on the debt. Those payments are going to be a drain on your financial situation because if you have any significant amount of debt, you’ll be paying it off for a very long time (at minimum amounts). If you’ve taken on the debt in order to get a degree, then it’s wholeheartedly worth it. If you took it on to “enjoy yourself” then you’ll be kicking yourself once you have more responsibility.

This article is part of a new series I’ve started called Personal Finance for College Students [3] (hence, PF College).