Options to avoid student loans

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Q. I’m 42 and I’m thinking of going back to college. I don’t have extra money and the idea of taking tens of thousands in loans is scary. What’s the best way to get started?
— Older but not wiser yet

A. We agree that huge student loans are scary.

So many people take on this kind of debt without seeing what it will mean to their long-term finances. Payback schedules, if you borrow tens of thousands of dollars, can mean you could have a monthly payment that’s bigger than a car payment or even a mortgage.

Depending on your income level you might be able to qualify for grants or scholarships, said Roy Williams, president and founder of Prestige Wealth Management in Flemington and Millburn.

You should also talk to your employer to see if your company has a tuition reimbursement program, he said.

Then you should carefully consider the cost of the schooling you’re considering.

“Maybe start off at community college or online college to see if going back to school is going to work into your schedule before paying tuitions at high-cost institutions,” Williams said.

He also recommends you talk to people in your industry to see if this new degree would really make a difference in your compensation and career path before moving forward with the decision as well.

Good luck!

Email your questions to moc.p1566304540leHye1566304540noMJN1566304540@ksA1566304540.

This post was first published in February 2017.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.