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Excellent question, and one that I don't have a clear answer for because I honestly believe that colleges are insanely over-priced, there is not enough financial aid for the needy, many of the required courses are a waste, the books and supplies are overpriced, and the degree is usually good for entry-level jobs. You really have to move forward and have at least a Master's degree to earn decent salaries in many fields. I believe that the college structure really needs to be examined and revamped.
Ithink the key is PLAN. Don't put the debt totally out of your mind, but give yourself time to contemplate and face the challenge. Keep a record of your debt and your expenditure. Congratulate yourself on wise choices like buying second hand books or using the library. Be aware of your commitments but make the decision that you will manage your debt, not the other way around.
You might also consider planning and preparing now for a career which offers debt/loan forgiveness. There aren't many, but they do exist, and though they typically offer lower start-up salaries, in today's economy, the loan forgiveness should be looked at as a salary raising benefit.
NC has a teaching program which essentially pays off student loans for teachers who work in a NC public school for at least four years. I also know of loan forgiveness jobs in the legal world, all of which are state jobs. I imagine that if you spoke to someone at your university in the career counseling center, you could be given a list of loan forgiveness programs. Certainly worth looking into and seeing what the requirements are now.
If you are worried about the long-term debt of the tuition loan itself, you need to do as everyone here as suggested: put it out of your mind, for now. If you want/need a college education, you don't have a choice but to take on this debt, and you will pay it off in manageable amounts after graduation. If you are worried about your day-to-day expenses and how you are spending money now, you need to come up with a realistic budget. You need to actually write down every cent you spend to see where you spend your money and then brainstorm ways to spend less. The old-time expression was to "tighten your belt." You really need to start asking yourself if something is a "want" or a "need" and spend accordingly. You will surprised in the small ways you can save.
All the previous advice is good. You may want to talk to a psychologist at your school who may be able to give you some practical advice on how to deal with your worries. I suspect that the counselors at your school have to deal with this problem quite often, so don't be reluctant to seek help. Don't at all consider it a sign of "weakness." These people are trained to help people get through tough times, and you have absolutely nothing at all to lose. (Students on my campus can visit a counselor three times a year at no charge.) Also seek advice from your academic advisors and "guidance counselors," who may be able to help you track down scholarships you may not know about. Good luck to you!
Here's a link to some books that may be of help. You can often "look inside" the books, and often there are very helpful customer reviews.
I agree that you might try reducing your debt by completing a work study or other program at your university. Most college debt, like tuition loans, can be deferred. There isn't much you can do about it while you are in school. Focus on your studies so that the cost will be worthwhile. I understand how stressful it can be but really the main concern should be your studies. If it is really stressing for you, consider speaking with a counselor at your university or visiting a financial planner. You might also speak with your loan officer or bank where you have your college loan(s). While it seems like an overwhelming pile of debt, it really won't be that bad once you graduate. Most interest is deferred and most loan payments start out small. Remember that educational loans are also a tax deduction so it can help you to have some payments when you get your first job.
If you stress out about your debt, you're going to do worse in your classes. If you've got a lot of debt all you can really do is to do your best so that you can get a good job when you're out of college and pay it all off. If you're committed to having the debt, all I can say is try your best to forget it because you have little choice.
Most people have financial problems of some sort; it's a constant worry of my own. If you are worrying about college loans that do not have to be paid back until after you graduate, you should put them from your mind for the time being. If you have more pressing worries such as making your next tuition payment, consider talking with a financial services officer at your school. I was recently able to make monthly payments on my tuition, and that may be a solution to your problem. You may also want to consider a part-time job to help ease your burden.
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