Student loan debt is no secret to the American public. Unfortunately, the financial crisis faced by millions of students is continuing to grow.

According to the PwC Employee Wellness Survey, 42 percent of millennial employees have student loan debt. Twenty-six percent of Gen-X employees have student debt, as well as 11 percent of baby boomer employees.

Total Student Debt in the U.S.

First of all, the state of student loan debt isn’t getting better. These figures continue to rise each year in the U.S. In fact, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that 44 million Americans hold a debt that has hit $1.31 trillion.

Not quite sure how to comprehend that number? The total outstanding balance on American credit cards is just $779 billion.

Perhaps, this might put things in perspective: The entire economy of Russia is only slightly larger than the U.S. student loan debt, with their gross domestic product coming in at $1.33 trillion annually.

It’s VERY Unlikely That a Loan Is Forgiven

It’s a common misunderstanding among students that their student loans will be forgiven. We want to be clear that this is VERY unlikely. One more time: It’s extremely unlikely that your student loan debt will be forgiven, in part or in its entirety.

In reality, only 10 percent of people will see any portion of their student loans forgiven. To qualify for forgiveness, you must fit into a few narrow categories. Those are:

  1. Take a public service job for a long period of time.
  2. Teach in an underserved school district.
  3. Attend a college that closes while you’re in attendance or shortly after you graduate.
  4. Become permanently disabled.
  5. Die.

Those are all the options. That’s it. Hence, if you don’t fit into these categories, your student loan debt won’t be forgiven.

Fees, Fees, and More Fees

Changes are afoot in the U.S. Department of Education. The Trump administration has rescinded an Obama-era rule that forbade debt collectors from charging collection fees from defaulted borrowers if they begin paying within 60 days of defaulting.

For students who miss several payments in a row, debt collectors can charge fees as high as 16 percent. Additionally, these fees are levied against the entire outstanding loan balance and interest charges.

What Happens If I Default on My Federal Student Loans?

You’re not alone in asking this question. In 2016, 1.1 million federal student loans were in default according to the U.S. Department of Education.

A federal student loan goes into default after 270 days of missed payments. The consequences of that are:

  • The entire balance of the loan is immediately due.
  • You lose eligibility for deferment, forbearance, and flexible repayment plans.
  • You could face a loss of credit.
  • Your wages and tax refunds can be used for repayment.

If you’re periodically missing payments or have concerns:

  • Contact your loan provider as soon as you know there’s a problem.
  • You can ask for a forbearance.
  • Find out if you’re eligible for a flexible repayment plan.

If you’re already in default:

  • Ask for loan rehabilitation from your loan provider.
  • Have your default status lifted by making nine on-time payments within 10 months.

Taking on student loan debt and figuring out how to repay that debt are major choices that should take time and thoughtfulness to make.

A college degree looks fantastic on your resume, but many employers want more than a piece of paper that says you finished school —they want experience. But how can you gain experience when no one will hire you without it? Consider the following tips to help you become more competitive.

Show Off What You’ve Learned

Your resume might be short on experience, but you can exploit the experience you do have. Maybe that summer you spent working in a fast food restaurant taught you about teamwork and customer service. Perhaps you learned leadership skills through an extracurricular activity.

Drawing attention to your good character skills is valuable. One talent acquisition manager for Western Union said, “It’s much easier for companies to train their employees on technical skills versus core competencies like leadership skills, analytical abilities, motivation, ambition and problem-solving. These traits span multiple industries and functional areas.”


Are there any charities or nonprofit organizations in your chosen field that you could volunteer for? Volunteering will give you practical experience, and it will show potential employers that you have a sense of social responsibility.

One of the biggest perks of volunteering is that it is a golden opportunity for networking. You could meet professionals in your field whom you might be able to use as references on your next job application. Your contacts could even tell you about upcoming job opportunities and provide you with a glowing recommendation.

Research the Companies You’re Applying To

Chad Paris, CEO of Parisleaf, stated, “I want somebody to come in and tell me what they know about my company, not that I’m just another company that they’re interviewing with.” That said, when you’re writing a cover letter to a company, Google it and find out about its mission, size, and leadership team. When you go in for an interview, use what you learned to show that you’re interested in more than just getting a job. Show them you’re interested in working for that specific company.

Doing thorough research will also demonstrate to potential employers that you enjoy learning, a very valuable trait to potential employers.

Be Realistic and Patient

Some employers are unyielding on their experience requirement. Instead of wasting your time begging for a job, start looking elsewhere. When you have some experience under your belt, you can try again with the companies that interest you the most.

Be patient, and keep a positive attitude. A job may not fall into your lap right after you get your undergrad degree, but if you keep looking for employment, you will find it. Some campuses even have job placement services that can get you started. You can even look at other resources too, including online job boards.

Work experience is often one of the most desirable things to employers, but even without it, getting a good job is possible if you follow the above advice.

We’ve all heard we should fake it until we make it, but what happens when it feels like others aren’t seeing the real you? What happens when you’re convinced you’re not as smart as people think you are and not deserving of the praise you receive? It might surprise you to know you’re not alone. In fact, the problem is so common it even has a name: impostor syndrome. It’s a natural reaction to the pressure you feel to succeed, but there are ways to fight it and start believing in yourself.


Start Journaling

Writing down your thoughts will help you sort through them and find clarity.

When negative thoughts take over, reach for your journal. Write down everything you’re thinking and worrying about. Perhaps you feel you’re at college through luck rather than merit, that your research is pointless, and that soon everyone will figure out you don’t deserve your place. Get it all down, then tear out the page and rip it up. This process destroys those words and the power they have over you.

Negativity doesn’t deserve a permanent place in your journal, but positivity does. Note the good things that happen to you, the praise you receive, and the great grades you earn — no achievement is too small. Look back through your journal for positive reinforcement whenever you feel like a fake.

Start Tutoring

Tutoring is an excellent way to remind yourself of your skills. When you tutor, you’ll pass what you know, which reinforces how much knowledge you actually have. When you see your students achieving, you’ll share in that success. As your student base grows, your own confidence should too. After all, if you were really as inept as you believe, would people ask for your help?

Positive referrals are the best way to expand your student base, but they can initially be hard to come by. Leave your contact details with teachers and counselors at local schools. Advertise on Craigslist and create a simple website and social media pages. Ask family members and friends if they know anyone needing tutoring. Start small, and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

Talk About It

It can be terrifying to consider opening up about your feelings, but there are some important reasons why you should. When you share your problems, you’ll stop feeling like they’re all on your shoulders. The people you open up to share some of the weight too, and they can help you through it.

Talk to trusted friends about the way you’re feeling. You might even discover they’re feeling the same way, which will make you feel less alone.

If you’re too scared to talk to your peers, then consider opening up to your academic advisor or a counselor. Your mentor is likely to recall a time that he or she struggled with similar doubts and what helped those feelings pass. Because counselors are trained to deal with problems like yours, they can listen to you impartially and suggest proven strategies to change your thinking.

Impostor syndrome can take a serious toll on your well-being, but with these strategies, you can stop feeling like a fake and start trusting yourself.

It might be tempting (with the high cost of going to college and the fear of student loan debt) for aspiring entrepreneurs to consider not going to college. However, there are many benefits of going to school and getting a degree, even for those who are entrepreneurially minded.

Build a Network

No matter whether you want to start a business or just become an employee, college is the place to build your network. In college, your network will expand exponentially as you meet new friends (did someone say potential co-founder?), get to know professors, intern with established businesses, and create connections with other professionals.

Build your network well, and your business will be off the ground running and fully funded before you know it.

Get Educated

Starting a new company is no easy feat, and there’s more to it than creating the next big tech invention. Start-ups need capital, a founder with business know-how, and a great product.

College classes can help you get the education you need through business or entrepreneurship classes or any field of study you like. Even if you’re not taking classes in a particular subject, you have access to student groups where you can gain knowledge.

Job Security

You never know where life will take you or what path you’ll choose to follow. Having a degree can remove roadblocks from the path and make traversing life just a little bit easier. A degree is something good to put on your resume that will encourage employers to hire you and trust your skills. It never hurts to have a fall-back plan as an entrepreneur.

Like-Minded People

Going to college will expose you to like-minded people to join your network. This happens in a few ways.

Most professors are academicians and researchers. This means they’re interested in the cutting-edge “what’s next”. There’s a lot of overlap between researchers and entrepreneurs. You’ll also be surrounded by young students, a fantastic population for testing out new ideas or products.

The access you have to these audiences while in college is access that’s given to no other group of entrepreneurs. Once you leave campus, accessing these groups becomes a little bit harder. As an alumnus of a college, you’ll have slightly more access than someone who didn’t go to college.

Great Resources

Attending a college gives you access to more than just human resources. You also have access to fast internet connections, a wealth of research knowledge, and other resources.

Part of your tuition goes to fund your access to these resources, so you might as well use them often!

All these benefits make the cost of college worth it for those who are interested in starting their own businesses. You can’t be an entrepreneur in a vacuum, and college can give new entrepreneurs benefits such as resources, networks, and the knowledge necessary to successfully start their dream businesses.

Around 26.4 percent of 16- to-19-year-olds and 18.4 percent of 20- to-24-year-olds are active community volunteers, according to the most recent research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet many college students forget to mention this important experience when applying for jobs. In fact, less than a third of all job seekers mention unpaid work on their resumes. Don’t underestimate the value of volunteering! These are the reasons you should mention any community service on your resume.

Volunteering Teaches You Vital Career Skills

Volunteering teaches new skills and helps you hone existing ones. You might pick up job-specific skills, such as how to prepare food or update social media channels, as well as more general skills transferable to any role such as working as part of a team and managing your time effectively. Ninety-two percent of interviewers recognize that volunteering builds leadership skills, according to research from professional services firm Deloitte.

While employers slightly favor candidates with experience that relates to their positions, any volunteering work is valuable. Whatever you take from working in a real-world environment, your prospective employer will want to know about it.

Volunteering Helps You Beef Up Your Resume

At your tender years, you probably don’t have much paid work experience. You might have held a summer job at a fast-food restaurant or worked part-time at your local mall at best. However, even these aren’t likely to impress a potential employer. Noting your volunteering experience helps to separate you from the rest of your classmates by showing you have more to offer. This is especially important when you have little to no paid-work experience.

Volunteering Reflects Well On Your Character

Without money as an incentive, people do it for a variety of deeper reasons. Perhaps you volunteered to become more job-ready or make industry contacts. You might have been motivated by a desire to help others or your community. Whatever drove you to volunteer, you’ve displayed the sort of energetic, can-do attitude employers love. In fact, 82 percent of interviewers told Deloitte they prefer job applicants who have volunteered. Failing to mention your volunteering experience on your resume is failing to seize the opportunity to show you could be a valuable asset to any workplace.

Volunteering Gives an Insight Into Your Interests

When you take a paid job as a college student, you are probably happy to accept almost anything that comes with a paycheck. Deciding where to volunteer is likely to be a more personal choice. You might spend time reading to the elderly because you’re interested in working in aged care or volunteer at an animal rescue because you’re passionate about pets. Whatever your choices, noting your volunteer experience on your resume will help a potential employer get to know you better before the interview stage.

Volunteering might not be paid work, but it provides valuable experience any employer will want to know about. Remember to list your volunteering work and achievements proudly alongside any paid work on your resume.