The appeal of the student loan for undergraduates and postgraduates may be too enticing for some individuals to consider other means of self-funding. A lump sum of money at the beginning of your academic year with no pressure to repay until you are earning a minimum salary may seem like a financial boost not to miss. But be weary.
Student loans are a necessity in some cases and help many students to further their education and provide financial stability while studying. But a loan is a debt, plain and simple and you should consider at the time how you plan to repay your loan.
I took out a loan in my second year of my undergraduate degree. I chose to live at home while I studied to reduce the financial burden of studying and having a child. Unfortunately, my grandmother died in my second year of study so I had no choice but to take out a student loan. I was very hesitant at first, because the idea of finishing my studies with a debt was not part of my plan. I came across an article which referred to student loan as a good debt, not sure how debt can be good, but nevertheless it made sense. I had bills to pay, so to allay my trepidations, I devised a plan to repay the loan as soon as possible and had decided that I would make extra repayments to pay the loan off quicker.
The student loans in my second and third year of my undergraduate degree were my first and last. I had no intention of taking out another loan to further my studies. I believed there was an alternative way. For about a year after finishing my first degree, alongside working full time, I worked as a homecare assistant for an agency, so my hours were very flexible, about 10 hours a week. I used this time and money to get my finances in order.
I self-funded my masters by working full time and studying part time, one evening a week. I was able to pay the fee in instalments without accruing extra charges. I divided the yearly fee into three instalments and paid at the end of each semester. I found this much more manageable. I had to make some sacrifices, for instance reduce my clothes shopping and budget wisely, but it was worth it.
I was fortunate enough to receive 80% funding for my PhD from my employer after going through a vigorous application process and then appealing against their decision not to fund my studies, but I won the appeal and paid 20% of my course fees each year.
There are means to pay for your further studies. Always consider all your options and if you have to take out a loan try going for the minimum amount and think about how you intend to repay the loan before you decide to borrow.